#AtoZChallenge, April 10, 2018. Impersonator
26 posts. 26 days. And 26 letters of the alphabet, one post beginning with each letter, in April.
Follow me as we visit the not-quite-normal retirement village of Twilight, Arizona, where reality clashes with the unexplained.
Ivy Barnett pulled her golf car into the parking lot of the Twilight Bowl and cut the engine. She pocketed the keys and untied a lawn chair from the back. At ninety-seven, she didn’t need any help, thank-you-very-much, and trundled the short distance to the terraced hillside and plunked her chair in the front row, middle.
Ivy never missed a concert. Faux-Zac Brown Band, Everly Brothers impersonators, Cher look-a-likes, whoever the retirement village’s committee picked assured her appearance. Enjoying the tribute concerts highlighted her month.
She didn’t always agree with the music, mind you. The rhythm and blues concert in ’94 had been all blues and no rhythm. The Blues Brothers tribute in ’03 should have stayed in Chicago. As for the Led Zeppelin impersonators—they might as well have called themselves the Dead Zepplin.
But tonight—Ivy rubbed her hands in anticipation. Tonight was the night she’d looked forward to for years. Appearing at the Twilight Bowl amphitheater was the big kahuna, none other than the King himself—Elvis.
Fresh from his tour of the southern United States, including a holdover concert in Tupelo, Lamar “The King” Shupp, was the best Twilight could afford. Considering the free admission, “the best” didn’t say a lot, but Ivy had high hopes. How can you mess up the lyrics to Blue Hawaii?
The venue filled up quickly. Ivy watched people as they dribbled in, toting lawn chairs, blankets and coolers. Each person had a story, and she spent her time imagining what it might be.
The septuagenarian with the aloha shirt and bandage on his bald head became Lars Nyquist, returned from visiting his daughter in Maui and suffering a sunburned scalp. The two women in matching plaid shirts? Sisters, or maybe lesbians. The woman playing with her oversized purse? A dog smuggler, bringing in her beloved Poopsie, a pekinese with liver trouble.
And the octogenarian who plopped his chair next to hers? Ivy spent a considerable amount of time inventing his story.
He dressed in an Elvis white jumpsuit, with red satin lining the cape and in the flare of the bell bottom pants. Obviously an impersonator, but a good one, someone who didn’t mind spending for an authentic suit. And maybe a little cosmetic surgery as well? Ivy had to admit he looked more like the real Elvis than any impersonator she’d seen.
Nick DeBrusk, she decided to call him. A man of all trades—trucker, bartender, construction worker, semi-pro hockey player, and motorcyclist. A true adventurer and comfortable enough in his masculinity to wear a full Elvis suit to a retirement village concert.
The sun set, the amphitheater lights came on, and the emcee, Mickey Meadows, took stage. After a few lame jokes, the highlight of which was telling the audience if they didn’t like the show they could take their tickets and “return to sender, address unknown”, he introduced Lamar “The King” Shupp.
Not bad, she decided halfway through the concert. But not as good as her neighbor, Nick, or whatever his name was. He sang every song with an authenticity that shocked her. The audience around her turned away from the stage and listened to him. If anyone could be more Elvis than Elvis, he qualified.
As the lights dimmed after the last song, she turned to him and held out her hand.
“Ivy Barnett. You are very, very good.”
He shook her hand. “Thank you, ma’am, thank you very much.” He used the same expression and southern drawl of the King.
“I met him once,” she said, her heart fluttering at the memory. “At the Frontier in Vegas, back in ’57. Oh, it was so long ago.”
“Not so long.” He looked past her as if the Twilight Bowl stage had turned into one in Vegas. “I remember those shows, some of the earliest in my career. Man, I really liked Vegas.”
She leaned forward and whispered. “You don’t have to pretend with me.”
“Am I pretending?” His blue eyes sparkled.
The same blue, she remembered, as the real Elvis. How could that be? He died in 1977, she’d watched the television reports and read the tabloids.
“How did we meet, ma’am? I gave over a thousand concerts in my day and met a lot of people.”
Ivy decided to humor him. What were the odds Elvis had faked his death and retired in Twilight, Arizona? He played a game with her, but she knew how to catch him in a lie.
“I was the assistant stage manager and hurt myself on stage before one of your performances.” She’d ask him the location of the injury. Only the real Elvis would know.
A light came on in his eyes. “I sent you orchids.”
Ivy gasped. She’d received orchids from the entertainer, not the yellow roses he favored because his mother liked them.
She wet her lips and stammered, “Where did I hurt myself?”
He took her left hand, his eyes holding hers. “People think you’re crazy if you talk about things they don’t understand.”
Elvis lifted the sleeve on her left arm. With fingers as mottled as hers with age spots, he traced the edge of the scar inside her elbow.
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Thank you so much!
Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge, April 11, 2018, Jigsaw Puzzle
Widower Jimmy McLaren finds the missing puzzle piece in his life.
Until then, blessings,
p.s. Emcee Mickey Meadows has his own story April 14th in Meals on Wheels
Twilight, Arizona now available
I’m all shook up! Oh, yeah!
Don’t want to wait until April 30th to read all twenty-six Twilight stories? For a limited time, they are available on Amazon for 99¢. From Arizona Heat to One-Zero-Zero, read and enjoy twenty-six stories set in the strange retirement community of Twilight, Arizona.
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Elvis has left the building!