Thanksgiving at the Albertses last year hardly mattered to new waved Molly. She was then too preoccupied with thoughts about
leaving Eureka's dogwooded countryside for trendy adventures in Manhattan to notice any unusual behavior at home. Had she
turned from daydreaming for a moment to listen to her cousin's yapping at the dinner table, she might have better understood
what Cousin Janie meant when toying, "Mama has a new man!" But Molly, who believed this to be untrue and odd for good Catholic
folk such as the Albertses considered otherwise when her uncle, who was within ear shot, began to nod.
"Yeh, yeh," small boned Uncle Bud wheezed through his oxygen mask-- "Your aunt's got a new man alright and I'm better off
for it. After supper we'll move her down to the shop and that'll be the end of this nonsense." His words provoked Daisy, who
meant to kick her husband's leg under the table but got their crippled dalmation, Scattbutt instead. Scattbutt whelped as
he had been gnawing on his scabby paws and was taken by surprise. "There, there, Scatbutt," Daisy mewed, petted his wet fur
then scolded Buddy for leaving the durned dog inside. But Bud laughed and blew her a kiss to which she intercepted with a
left handed clutch and fixed its trace to her behind. "You'll always love me, Buddy." Bud nodded, pushed his empty plate to
the center of the table and began to mess with his lumps.
For twen-ty years Bud's habit of fiddling with those pink lumpy arms of his made fair-haired Daisy irritable. The first lump
premiered on their 10th wedding anniversary party and became the focal point of conversation which year after year remained
the topic of table talk: "Thirty whole years together, imagine it" all their kin remarked and would immediately shift to the
boil count on Bud's arms to say, "You really should get that checked out, Bud." But Bud didn't care. He was well over fifty
and looking miserably sixty-something, had chronic emphysema, tubes up his nose and continued to hide the fact that he smoked
and hadn't one bit of interest to see any doctor. Often he feigned deafness whenever Daisy whined, "stop it stop it," and
being the rebel that he was, dug deeper, taking pleasure in witnessing his wife's irritable winces. Thus his lumps grew from
"one to two" to a dozen on each arm which his wife publicly nicknamed "Buddy's buddies" at their 30th anniversary dinner and
evened the score. Yet this made Bud feel all the more right about marrying her for he adored a good laugh and boasted, "If
it hadn't have been for Elvis, my wife wouldn't have become such a joker. Do you know that she dated the King when she was
a kid?" Bud and Daisy's family loved this story. Some half believed it to be true and some half believed it to be Daisy's
imagination running wild. Regardless, the story of Daisy sharing pie with Elvis made the Alberts lungs sting with laughter
and brought Daisy back to the old wound of wondering where her life would have been had she stayed with Elvis for coffee.
Sometimes in the stillest of evenings Daisy Albert would hear Elvis repeat, "What are you having?" Then feel him leaning in,
whispering "that looks awfully decent." The very word "decent" would endlessly reverberate a thousand times in her thoughts,
and she would replay the image of crushed ice floating in soda, the large cafeteria clock on the wall struck at 1:30, the
lightly soiled napkin which she tried to conceal from this dark stranger. He was a man who seemed to read her insides so well,
and possessed a special vocabulary to utter a word like "decent." Daisy felt many connections to "decent," and "decency,"
and anyone who spoke her privately loved words became an instant, trusted friend. Yet Daisy's father cautioned against making
acquaintances with men outside of church, and so she had excused herself, only to learn the next day that a famous radio personality
by the name of Elvis asked for her phone number. "I'm sorry Mr Presely, but if you want to call Daisy you'll have to meet
her father at St Benedict's this Sunday. They're strict Catholic people." The waitress is rumored to have said, to which Elvis
replied, "Shucks, Ma'm, my mama wants me to date Baptists." And so Daisy missed her chance with Elvis but became the legendary
Queen of Eureka County for her popular loss, thanks to Bud Alberts reliving the tale, anniversary after anniversary.
A year passed and no one knew how it went like that, but after many late night calls from Missouri to New York, the world
of Daisy Alberts transformed into a most desired storyline for Molly who was busily suturing it into a schtick for her performance
art routine. Prior to last year's Thanksgiving get-together which Molly enjoyed since orphanhood (when her biological mother
went to prison for armed robbery), the charity of the Albertses seemed dull and predictable until Aunt Daisy took up a lover.
From what Molly gathered when chatting with her aunt into the wee hours of the morning, all of Eureka county, population 324,
had become jealously mad on the morning of Halloween when Daisy's secret lover broke silence and revealed himself, live, on
air that he was one "most tender loving hound dog under the spell of the Sassy Gal beautician," and must dedicate the song
"You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings" because it said all the things his heart was "too stunned to utter."
Daisy's clients, all three who were pinned, primming and permming in the very nice spaceaged hairdryer chairs, heard with
their own ears this dedication and became convinced that D.J. Jay was indeed real, not imaginary, and happened to sound southernly
sexy, manly, warm, seductive and dark haired. Not just dark haired but blueblack jethaired. And slick. Very slick.
The women whispered and began goading-- "Oh Daisy, I don't know how you managed to leave a fine man like Bud, but your Jay
sounds like Burt Bacharach.! How did you meet him? Tell us everything from the beginning!" Sally Dee queried.
Daisy pulled an hair pin out of her mouth and stuck it into one of the many small silver curls that lay dumb on Mrs Dee's
head. Daisy winked and shook her head No to Mrs Dee's question. This love was too private and personal. But with the cat was
out of the bag, Daisy now felt it necessary to close shop. There were thirty-seven days left to tie up lose strings as it
was more now than never to return to sender, so after brushing her clients doos into respectable styles, Daisy said, "No charge"
and showed them the door. Then with great joy in her heart, set the CLOSED sign in the front window. Once Mrs Dee got home,
she phoned Bud and asked for Janie. "Janie Honey," Mrs Dee said, "Your mama is going nuts."
The "Now or Never" signals reached Daisy's daughter who intuitively began ciphering her mother's newly acquired jock jive
which was half-born from radio commercial sound bytes and half-born from encrypted automobile license plates. It was a little
odd and strange. No one knew what to make of it when Daisy began to laugh at passing cars. At first Janie thought her mother
was commenting on funny bumper stickers, but then soon learned that her mother was decoding licenses for secret messages sent
from D.J Jay. Of all things! This funny behavior was also observed by Daisy's beauty patrons, and being the small town that
Eureka was, found a lively place in tavern gossip, which in turn circulated back to the K-KEA radio jockey. When D.J. Jay
heard the whole story of Daisy's love affair fantasy and the historical heartbreak of being so close to romance with Elvis,
he was stunned. Yet in thinking that Daisy needed to be "let down nicely," D.J. Jay decided to play along, and without her
knowing, contributed to the fantasy.
Janie was in the dark about D.J. Jay's intentions. She had tuned into radio K-KEA and heard his song dedications to her mother,
but being the good daughter that she was, felt it necessary to stay out of her mother's business. There was a part of her
that didn't want to reckon with the chance that her parents would be soon splitting up. And it was rough goings to figure
out what was happening to her mother now that she was living full time in the beauty shop, sleeping in the dressing room and
bathing in those fuschia shampooing sinks. Dad was lonely but adjusted well thanks to Janie's homecooking and housecleaning,
and he felt proud and grateful for having raised such a good daughter. All Janie wanted out of this was a resolution for her
parents but she was just beginning to understand the information, which came in piecemeal during those drives to the city
mall. On one such occasion to Rexall's in Labadie for a refill of her mother's Halycon nerve medicine, Janie got more than
she imagined when her mother revealed the secret language of Love.
"Love's language," Daisy breathishly intonated, "isn't bound by words but freed by feeling. When you feel, you are There.
The world is You. Songs are sung, and men are meant to sing, this is what '2YG367' means. This is the Show Me State and Jay
has shown me a love that doesn't know gravity. You know I love you, don't you darling?"
"Mama, what are you trying to say? You know I know you love me."
"Well Honey, my love is Everlasting. Something wonderful is going to happen, is happening. It's in Alaska." Daisy smiled and
looked at her watch. She was completely happy and for the first time, for a certain moment, Janie believed her mother entirely,
Janie eased her father's old blue Buick into a drive-thru diner and breaked for its cheery clown head. "What would you like,
Mama?" Janie asked before the clown wondered.
"I'll have a fat free frozen yogurt and a large diet coke." Daisy spoke to the vanity mirror. Janie turned her head to the
clown, "Good. That's what I want." The clown head squelched, "Are you ready to take your order?" Janie answered, "Yes, sir.
We'll have two soft serves and two large diet cokes."
"That'll be $4.20 with tax. Pull up to the window."
"Pull up to the window," Daisy mused to herself. "Windows are doors. It's what we pass to get somewhere. Can you remember
that? You need to know which way to go. When the time comes, you'll have to be ready. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Mama. Your order is coming."
"It most certainly is."
Janie interpreted her mother's code system as a symptom of some kind of unnamed nervous breakdown and quit dental hygiene
school, moved out of the Via Della Rosa trailer park and back into her old room. While sifting through the mail she found
a stack of unopened bills and discovered that her mother wrote Not At This Address on many envelops and forwarded them to
Bud. One bill totaled nearly $600 dollars in calls to the 212 area code and this sparked a curious envy which amazed Janie
as she generally felt compassion for her cousin who was, although a few years older, less mature and terribly unstable and
would probably, most likely find trouble in New York. Such was the case for Aunt Deb whom no one spoke of since the jailing
when Molly was but nine and adopted by Grandma. Yet Grandma took sick and died but a few years ago, leaving Molly with some
money for college. Yet money was hard to come by. Every dime had to be counted and Janie wondered if somehow her cousin was
aware of Mama's new poverty now that she was living in the beauty salon and cut off from Bud's allowances. Just thinking of
how her cousin could stay on the phone like that made Janie feel hot in the face, so she decided to put her foot down.
Janie drew in a deep breath and dress rehearsed the words she would have to get out quickly because she knew Molly inherited
Grandma's Radio Shack answering machine, but not realizing it, Janie pressed the speed dial by accident and was well on her
way. Quickly she had to speak her peace: "Mama keeps calling you. I know it. Six-hundred in phone. If you love her you let
her be let her come -" But the beep came and she was in no mood for a redial or rephrasing.
Later that evening Janie got a call from Molly. "Hi Janie, it's me." Molly said to her cousin. "Molly, I'm very unhappy with
you right now," Janie replied. Then they got to talking about the big phone bill which Molly explained happened on account
of Aunt Daisy calling drunk every night, sobbing on how it wasn't working with Jay because all he could do was send cars with
secret messages in the license plates. "So you knew and didn't say anything?" Janie asked. "Yes, I'm sorry, but your mom is
my aunt and I swore on oath to keep secret. I thought I was helpful by being her friend but I don't think I can handle it.
was funny at first. I even thought she needed to have Jay because he made her feel alive, loved, but you know what? There
isn't even a Jay. The only man in her life is Uncle Bud."
Janie took in another deep breath and asked her cousin to repeat what she just said. "Yes, there is no man in your mama's
life but Uncle Bud. She's in a weird headspace. I don't know what it is, maybe the drinking. Do you think you could call AA
or something?" Janie laughed at this, "Molly, we if call any of those people they'll come for all of us. It's the last thing
we need and Daddy would be mad." "Guess your right," Molly responded then let the whole thing out:
"Jay is Elvis."
"What? You can't be serious," Janie pleaded.
"Yes. Jay is Elvis."
Thirty-two summers ago in the St Louis County's electric light district of Cherokee, young Daisy dreamily sipped ginger beer
on a burgundy swivel stool at Woolworth's five and dime. She frequently wore a lovely beige chenille sweater that complimented
her stove piped skirt of the same tone. Noon times at Woolworth's offered Daisy a comfortable hour away from her lessons at
Meremac's Cosmopolitan Institute and offered her the finest ladies' day journals she enjoyed reading for free. This was her
favorite soda fountain as this was the place where she learned to find her own thoughts away from other folk, but mostly,
she enjoyed Woolworth's because this was the place where she met Elvis Aaron Presley and fell madly, madly in love.
Beautiful Elvis was a handsome young man and had the physique of a Roman Olympian athlete and soothing voice of a gentle Egyptian
prince. He didn't speak to Daisy at first, just flirted with his dark eyes, unzipped his red suede jacket and pretended to
trouble reading the menu. "Sugar," he said to her, "that looks awfully decent. What are you having?" "Root beer pop," she
giggled, not knowing who the young man was as her father was a strict Catholic man and forbade his daughters from listening
to the radio.
The handsome stranger moved down the bar and made himself home on the stool next to Daisy's. This made her face instantly
flush and she tried very hard to conceal the effect of her racing heart. "You're very pretty," he said, and then whispered
lowly into her ear, "I go by the name of Elvis. What's yours?" "Daisy," she whispered back, "Daisy Whitall." "Well nice to
meet your acquaintance, Miss Whitall. It is Miss, right?" He winkishly prodded and took her hand in his with a very warm carress.
Such contact made Daisy burst into a nervous giggle, "Yes! Yes! Good heavens it is Miss. I'm only nineteen." "Well Miss Whitall,
I hope you will do me the honor and have a pie with me." But in seeing the clock on the wall was struck at 1:30, Daisy had
to apologize and bid a pleasant thanks and parting for her lunch hour was now over and she had to return to Meremac's for
a lesson in bleaching.
"Awfully sorry, Mr Preseley, but if I'm late to class, my instructor will mark me down and I can't allow that to happen just
now," she said, and began hunting for a dime in her purse. "Please allow me. My treat," Elvis said and then called for the
waitress to order a slice of American Cobbler with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Daisy left but would return Monday to
Saturday with the hope that she would see this fine man once more, but he never returned until recently.
The air was unseasonably warm and stiff this November, and per her cousin's urging, Molly bought a round trip flight to St
Louis a week earlier than planned. Molly wasn't exactly sure if Aunt Daisy really believed that Elvis was alive and living
in Alaska and on his way to Eureka where he hosted a radio show for one which he personally transmitted by satellite over
the Aurora Borealis. It seemed quite silly since the famous entertainer died four years before by drug overdose, however,
Aunt Daisy made a convincing story-- Elvis faked his death so that he could be free to roam where he liked and do as he pleased.
He could successfully hide all these years because he had a ranch in Alaska and had a warehouse with every imaginable product
known to man and named by Adam. Daisy told her niece, "Elvis's manager made him give me up because I was just a country girl
and would have been bad for publicity, that's how it was back then, but now that Elvis is a man there's no one who can tell
him what to do."
And there was no one to argue with Daisy on this one either. Daisy had thrown herself completely into her faith that Elvis
was on his way to take her to Alaska that she slept for only thirty minutes a day, cutting and sewing evening gowns to wear
on their lune de miel. She steam ironed the many dresses and gently placed them in old Famous and Barr gift boxes which she
had saved for some ten or twelve Christmases. She would need a gown for every evening and could not wear the same gown twice
in a row, so she would need a gown for every other day and there were thirty days in the month of November, April, June and
September, all the others had thirty-one but February. She repeated this to herself and kept a flow chart of her progress.
Her industriousness paid off the second week into production for she had achieved the sewing of fifteen gowns. By then there
was a knock at the door from her first visitor in weeks.
"Aunt Daisy, are you there? It's me, Molly." A small voice squeeled from outside.
Daisy straightened her blouse with a quick tug at the hem and then peered through a hole in the dark velvet sheets which she
had nailed over the windows last month. "Molly, is that you?" She asked. "Yes, Aunt Daisy, it's me, all the way from New York.
Why aren't you calling me anymore?" Daisy sighed and shook her head, opened the door and gestured for her twiggish niece to
find a seat at the hairdryer station. "Aunt Daisy," said Molly who was very much relieved to cross the locked door, "I have
been worried sick about you. What's going on? Why all these suitcases? Are you going away somewhere?"
With a very slow start, Daisy began to explain to her niece the facts of life and the importance of brushing after every meal.
"You need to take care of your teeth. Once the teeth go, that's the end of your health. I need to hear you tell me that you'll
remember to floss." Molly took a survey of the room and noticed department store frames hosting photographic images of Elvis
Preseley all over the walls and shelves which previously held beauty supplies. "Aunt Daisy, I need to ask you something."
"Sure thing, honey. What is it?"
"Has Elvis been here to see you? Have you seen Elvis?"
"Molly, all I can tell you is that he's on his way. You might even get a chance to meet him. He's such a nice man, and he's
coming to fly me to Alaska in his own plane. Did you know the man can fly a plane?"
Molly stared earnestly into her arm and without even thinking began to pick at a flea bite. "If you do that," her aunt said,
"you'll end up like your uncle... Can you imagine that? Thirty years with the King of Carbuncles. Do you think it's been easy
to look at that? I have cooked and cleaned and gave Buddy everything, now God is delivering me my miracle--" and with that
said, there was a knock at the door.
"See? He's here now! He's come to take me to Alaska!" Aunt Daisy screamed excitedly.
"Go get him, hurry! Hurry!" She pleaded to Molly.
Molly sprung to her feet and darted for the door which magically opened inward and slammed hard against her forehead, knocking
her cold. "Dear God, she's dead!" Aunt Daisy cried and then began to convulse. The shadow followed by another shadow on the
other side of the door made themselves known.
"Daddy!" Janie gasped, "Mama's having an heart attack and Molly's on the floor!" Just then, with heroic strength, Bud flew
to his wife, wrapped his arms around her waist and carried her to an open dryer chair, dragging his oxygen tubes that dangled
free from the air tank. "Check Molly to see if she's breathing," he ordered to his daughter who then bent over and listened
to her cousin's mouth. "Yes, she is. She's just out cold. I'll call 911," Janie said.
Taking off Daisy's shoes, Bud elevated his wife's feet and began to rub them with the hope that after all the years he rejected
her requests for massages that this one time would bring his wife back, "Oh my darling," Buddy said to Daisy, "Hang on. Hang
on." And he felt no pain from breathing regular air.
Janie returned to Molly's side and noticed her left cheek twitching. "Oh mercy, Molly, you've got a real shiner. You need
some ice." So the young nursing student went for the mini-fridge and pulled out the only icy thing-- a two year old beefsteak.
Moments later, Molly blinked her eyes and called out Elvis' name, to which her ecstatic cousin rejoiced, "Daddy! Molly is
Uncle Bud walked a few paces, removed the tubes that dangled from his nose, then lifted his niece off the floor, saying, "You
can call me Elvis if you want." Janie helped by gathering her father's tubes and tank. "Daddy," she said, "you really need
to get this back on at once." For the first time in two years, Bud felt physically free. There are wild stories of young mothers
in car accidents made able to lift automobiles off their loved ones, and Bud Alberts, on the eve of his wife's honeymoon with
Elvis, was an umber mensch. "Janie," he said, "I can breath just fine," and moved Molly next to Daisy's slumped frame. "This
isn't a comfortable place to rest. We need some bedding," he commented and began to hunt for softer things. Opening the Famous
and Barr boxes, he found the gowns which he dumped on the floor to make a colorful, chiffon nest. "There you go, my darlings,"
he said sweetly and carried his wife, then niece to softer ground. When the paramedics arrived, the rescuers gave a double
take and began their treatments. From what Captain Steven Irons told Janie Alberts, "Your cousin has suffered a mild concussion
and may have amnesia, so be forwarned."
Accordingly, while under the influence of the big green door, Janie was pleasantly dreaming of herself as the young Miss Daisy
Whitall, and yes, oh yes, while coming to, her young Elvis Presley did arrive: The strong, dark haired male attendant treating
Molly complimented her and became in her vision a debonair gentleman. When placing his tender hand to her cheek to examine
her abrasions, Molly felt a sudden electrical charge burst from her toes to her red roots. Her eyes sparked and for an instant
flashed golden flecks in her hazel irises. "You have very pretty eyes," her rescuer said. This aroused fierce passions in
the delirious Molly who then threw her arms about Captain Irons' neck and began to kiss him earnestly. "O Elvis, Dear Elvis!
How I've waited for you. Thirty years! You can't know! You can't know!"
Captain Irons politely withdrew Molly from his firm chest, and taking her hand in his, escorted her to the ambulance. Turning
to his partner who was safely strapping Daisy into the ambulance bed, Steven Irons said, "I think I like this girl."
Three weeks later, on Christmas Eve, Molly and Steven Irons made a proper visit to Daisy Alberts who was now out of a coma
and able to suck semi-solids from a long straw.
Daisy's physical therapist was training her to use the left arm to the best of her ability now that her whole right side was
paralysed by the sudden stroke. While standing beside her brave aunt, Molly overheard Doctor Martin comment to the therapist
that he had found traces of epileptic seizures in the MRI readings-- he was about to ask Daisy a question but in seeing that
she was drooling, turned to Molly and asked whether her aunt had exhibited any unusual behavior within the last year.
"Well doctor," Molly started, "for a time my aunt believed that she was having a romance with Elvis Presley."
The good doctor nodded his head and said, "Delusional thought brought upon by blood clotting. The clot starts out very small
and gradually builds up, eventually pressing against your aunt's cerebral cortex, giving her these hallucinations. The clot
will either do two things-- burst and cause internal bleeding which we hope not, or-- pass, clearing with a stroke such as
she had. Which is what we hope for. I see no impending threat. The danger has lifted. And as for those Elvis thoughts,...
people who suffer from blood clots often see the strangest things."
"Is that right?" The therapist jumped in to flirt with the very single and very good looking Dr Martin. Yes, he nodded and
continued, "It happens more frequently than we know and could explain for lots of craziness in the world." With his analysis
for the day complete, Dr Martin excused himself, hung up the chart on the outside of the door and patted Steven's shoulder.
Steven smiled, and said, "See ya later, Frank." Nurse Helen melted, then returning to Daisy's attention, asked her "Was it
true, Mrs Alberts? Were you ever friends with The King?"
Daisy moaned and tried to pull at the tube buried deep down her throat.
"Now you just keep all that nice dinner coming to you" Nurse Helen told Mrs Alberts and then turned her attention to Molly
to ask "What happened with your aunt?"
Molly felt put on the spot with her new boyfriend there, but Steve explained to Nurse Helen that Molly herself had trouble
explaining things since she lost an hour of memory when hitting her head on the door on the night her aunt had the stroke.
"You don't say?" Nurse Helen remarked, "was there some kind of party going on?"
"No Nurse," said Molly who then looked at Daisy and witnessed Daisy shaking her head side to side in agreement.
The awkward moment had to be cleared, so Steven light heartedly expressed that Molly's amnesia paid off because they were
now dating. This put Nurse Helen into bits. Molly laughed, too. Apprarently Molly thought pretty highly of this Mr Irons because
she abandoned everything in New York to move home with Janie. "When love comes," Janie said, "it's a miricale. I would be
missing out on a great thing if I stayed in SoHo."
"If that don't beat all," the Nurse replied.
For Molly this was the best Christmas ever, and she wished Janie and Uncle Bud were there to see Aunt Daisy all awake and
able to suck apple sauce without complaining.
Just then Uncle Bud and Janie poked their heads around the Christmas carded door frame. Bud stepped back for a second, making
a loud bang with his air tank. "Why just don't stand on the other side," the Nurse implored, "Come in. Come in."
"Well," Bud sheepishly replied. "I kinda did a bad thing. I brought our dog. Hope you don't mind."
"Lord, Mr Alberts. You know the hospital rules. But seeing this is Christmas, come on in and bring the dog."
Steve Irons shook Bud's hand, "it's a good thing you brought your tank."
"Well," Bud started, "to be truthful, I think I'm allergic to Scattbutt."
Bud laughed and released old Scattbutt to let him lick Daisy's toes. "Go get her, Scattbutt, go getcher Mama!" Then a miricale
happened: "Oh, Scattbutt,. It's good to see you," Aunt Daisy whispered with tubes down her throat. "Did you hear that?" Janie
smiled with tears in her eyes, "Mama is talking again!"
Such warm words continued to gleam and glow throughout the holiday evening, and this brought color into eyes of Walter "Bud"
Alberts as he stayed by his wife's side. There was love all about. The bright pointestias overtook the yellowed walls and
enshrined everyone in glorious feelings.
"Oh sweetheart," Bud said, "It's great to have you back!"
"Me too," answered Daisy.