Author: Lee Hammerschmidt
April 29, 1976, 11:53 PM
“Don’t answer!” I said as I felt the muted phone throbbing in my cargo shorts pocket. “Do NOT answer!”
“So, Chalk,” Aurora Nirvana, my boss said. “Would you care to explain to me just what in the name of the Cosmos you’re doing in Graceland? In the Jungle Room no less?”
“M-m-m-me?” I stammered “I, uh, well…”
“Don’t try to squirm out of it. We pinged your phone. You’re supposed to be in Portland monitoring the Swine Flu situation, But surprise, you’re in Memphis. This better not be another one of your souvenir gathering side trips. Like the baseball card incident.”
About six months ago I had detoured from an assignment in Seattle to my family home in Oregon. I knew my folks were out of town at a wedding and the younger version of myself was in California. No chance of awkward or disastrous face to face confrontations. My mom had stored my old baseball cards and comic books in a bin out in their garage. Two years later, when I had moved to out, she gave them all away!
“But they were my cards!” I said. “Mickey Mantle! Roger Maris! Sandy Koufax! And a shitload more! And the comic books. Do you know how much all that stuff is worth now in 2067?”
“It doesn’t matter whose they were, Chalk,” Aurora said sternly. “As an Agent of the Department of Inertial Cosmic Kinesis you are strictly forbidden from profiteering off antiquities picked up in your travels. I don’t need to remind you that you’re still on probation for that offense.”
“So, what are you doing in Graceland?”
“I just wanted to see the place before it got all touristy, that’s all. You know I’m a big fan of the King.”
Aurora sighed heavily, not believing me for a second. “You didn’t cross paths with anyone there did you?”
“Nope. Elvis is in Tahoe, and The Boys are out front kicking Springsteen off the property. Perfect timing.”
“Well you get your ass out of there, pronto! You dig?”
“Good. Remember you will be fully scanned on your return and if you bring back so much as a roll of toilet paper, you will be sent right back for three years. You know what that means?”
Oh, boy did I ever. The heart of the Disco era! I don’t think I could live through that shit again, even with the extended longevity that came with being a D.I.C.K. agent. I’d go mad in a week!
“Comprende, Chief,” I said. “See you in a jiff. I’ll…”
The phone cut off before I could finish. Wow, testy today aren’t we. I reached into my messenger bag and pulled out an old, yellowed copy of Rolling Stone magazine. The date – September 22, 1977. Just over a month after Elvis died. Roughly 16 months from today. It was the memorial tribute issue to the King The cover was a portrait of Elvis, with the dates,1935-1977.
I put the magazine on the piano where I knew he would see it. Sure, he’d probably just think it was a joke. But maybe he might open it up and read the in-depth article on his demise and start making some lifestyle changes. Cut out the fried foods. Exercise. Lay off the pills. Ditch the jumpsuits. Maybe he would live longer and get back to making great music again.
Probably not, but I had to give it a try. Aurora said not to take anything. But she didn’t say anything about leaving something behind.