gary, as i said, grew up here. he’s a guitar player. a great guitar player. we met him in nashville. he was, in fact, playing guitar. he talks with this songlike cadence – it is memphis rolling off the tongue; a drawl, slow and muddy like the mississippi, full of dirt and red clay, with all the grit of humanity drained into it. you don’t notice the time when he talks. and he has stories. memphis stories. stories of music and the dirt of memphis.
one night a very young gary and a friend of his are sitting around. they feel brave and in control of everything. the whole world – they’re running it. gary’s friend says, “gary, elivis needs to hear that song.” his friend is referring to the song that gary had just played for him. so full of youth and bravery they head to graceland. this is early elvis, when the estate’s back yard turned to pasture with nothing but barbed wire separating the king from the rest of us and in the moonlight gary and his friend slipped through as fluid and quiet as the muddy river along the memphis banks. they walked up to and through the unlocked back door of graceland and headed straight to the iniquitous the jungle room, plopped down, made themselves at home, and waited. for elvis. to come home. to hear gary’s song.
a butler or grounds keeper or person of employment who obviously belonged in elvis’s house, upon hearing noise, entered the jungle room to find gary and his brave friend relaxing languidly, remarkably listless and indifferent to his presence.
“excuse me,” he asked, “but what may i inquire are you doing here in the jungle room?”
“we’re waiting on elvis. i’m supposed to give him this song,” responded gary.
“yeah, he wants to hear it. needs to, if you know what i mean,” added the brave friend.
the person of estate employment calmly picked up the phone and called the cops.
hands behind their backs, cuffed, outside, in the front drive of graceland, hovering against police cars, thighs holding their weight as they are pressed against the sides of cold fenders, straining their necks to peer at the headlights entering the drive, still impassionedly pleading their case, insisting that they were here at the king’s request, that he wanted, no needed – elvis had said – to hear this song. they see the limo. truth coming up the drive. the back window slides down. the cop, the one in charge, walks over to it, leans in. speaks words into the black void of the back seat. the cops thumb points back over his shoulder to the two brave boys straining with their hands behind their backs pressed against cold cars with lights flashing, grinning over their shoulders toward the limo. a head leans out, piercing the black with it’s unmistakable hair and smirk. he looks at them. looks at the cop. the unmistakeable head shakes slowly and unmistakeably back and forth. the window is up. the limo is gone. they are in the back seat headed downtown.