A new and comic look at the world of Elvis Presley is revealed in these stories, written by one of his millions of fans. They show Elvis, Colonel Parker and the Memphis Mafia dealing with the likes of Liberace, Greta Garbo and HM The Queen.
“It’s true that sequels are doing great business at the box office.” Colonel Parker is on the phone to Hal Wallis, his great friend and producer of many of Elvis’s movies. “I agree that maybe we should do a sequel to ‘GI Blues’. The fans loved that film. Just a minute, Hal. Bubba is waving a piece of paper at me.”
The Colonel tells his assistant if it is an invoice to put it in the pending tray, which, of course, as far as Bubba is concerned, is like saying ‘abandon hope all ye who enter here’.
Resuming his conversation with Hal Wallis, the Colonel says, “Now let me get this straight. Your idea is that Elvis goes back to Germany. But this time he is a General and he’s going to sort out the Russians and save Berlin. The working title will be Checkpoint Elvis. Yea, I like that. And can we get Juliet Prowse again who was in ‘GI Blues’? You say you’ll come back to me next week with a script. Hold on Hal, Bubba is jumping up and down and still waving that piece of paper. I’ll call you back.”
Colonel Parker sits back in his chair, wafts away the thick clouds of cheap cigar smoke, and invites Bubba to explain what is going on.
“Why, sir, it’s this letter from the US army and I must admit that I am mighty puzzled. It says Elvis is on something they call the Reserve List and he must report in the next seven days to somewhere called Camp Benedict Arnold. It’s in Tumbleweed, Mississippi.”
The Colonel goes for the full bluster and declares, “This is outrageous! That boy has served his time with Uncle Sam. Two whole years and he came back a hero. This whole thing is a big mistake!”
“A hero, Colonel, sir? I really didn’t know that,” comments Bubba innocently.
“Yes, they pinned a medal on his chest.”
“Would that be the Good Conduct Medal, sir? Because it is my belief that every soldier got one of those, providing they didn’t shoot the commanding officer.”
“Don’t quibble, Bubba,” says the Colonel. “This is all a terrible mistake. We’re going to ignore this and it will go away. Trust me.”
Elvis, the Colonel, Hal Wallis, and Steve Sholes, RCA’s top record producer, are going through the script of the ‘GI Blues’ movie sequel. Hal describes how the General, played by Elvis, has gone over the Berlin Wall and into the Russian zone to rescue Juliet Prowse when he is confronted by a group of Russian soldiers. While the fight is going on, the soundtrack will play Elvis singing a specially commissioned song called ‘Caught Reds Handed’.
Elvis grumbles about it being another album movie but Hal Wallis shakes his head and assures him there’ll just be a couple of songs. He looks meaningfully at the Colonel and adds that the movie will be a thriller with just a little hint of comedy, more Cary Grant than Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. “My script boys see this as a breakout role for Elvis,” adds Hal Wallis, winking slyly at the Colonel.
There is a rapid knocking at the door and Bubba bursts in saying, “Colonel, sir, come quickly.”
Colonel Parker is affronted and looks around the room as if he has been interrupted while addressing a large audience at the United Nations. He tells his assistant that he is in the middle of a very important meeting and to please put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ notice on the door on his way out.
“I’m really sorry, sir, but I do think you should come to the front door. Right now. They want to arrest Elvis.”
Colonel Parker sets his straw trilby on his head, brushes the cigar ash from his Hawaiian shirt, and approaches the front door with the slowness and stateliness of an elderly hippopotamus with rheumatism. Standing there are four members of the military police. The guy at the front introduces himself as Captain Ludendorf and says he has a warrant for the arrest of Elvis Presley. The Colonel looks perplexed and strokes several of his chins as if he is being asked to explain the Theory of Relativity and doesn’t know where to begin.
He blows cigar smoke towards the Captain. “Arrest! Has rock and roll suddenly become illegal? Arrest! Surely not for being the most famous man in the United States, if not the world. And surely not for being a medal-winning hero.”
“No one is above the law, sir. Mr. Presley failed to report to Camp Benedict Arnold as ordered and we are here to take him there.”
The Colonel asks to see the warrant, takes his time reading through it, and hands it back. “That is a load of baloney, Captain,” he asserts.
“I must ask you to step aside, sir, and allow me to do my duty,” is the reply.
“I am Colonel Thomas Parker of the Virginia Fencibles and I outrank you. I’m saying that warrant is not valid. I order you to go back and get it checked.” Minnie Mae has appeared next to the Colonel and she has a very convincing argument – she is pointing Granpappy Hood’s old buffalo gun at Captain Ludendorf. “Elvis ain’t leavin’ the building, son”, she declares. “You should be a-wearin’ clown shoes an’ a big red nose cus ah ain’t never heard sich damn fool nonsense. You and yer boys need ter scoot reeeal fast cus mah trigger finger is a-startin’ ter twitch.”
At that moment they are joined by Elvis who leaps into his karate kill stance, makes a few chopping motions with his hands, and tells them, “You’ll never take me alive.” The Captain and his men retreat a few feet, while Elvis goes back into the house, roaring with laughter, saying, “I bet that scared them.”
“Colonel, Ma’am, we will be back,” replies Captain Ludendorf a little less confidently. “And next time Mr. Presley will be coming with us.”
And that is how the siege of Graceland began.
A little while later, Elvis’s grandmother, Minnie Mae, is sitting in a chair outside the front door with the buffalo gun resting across her lap. She is joined by her daughter, Aunt Delta, who is pulling a suitcase on wheels. “Thought ah’d join yer, Ma,” she says.
“Planning ter stay the night,” observes Minnie Mae, nodding towards the suitcase.
“Mebbe,” answers Aunt Delta, who unzips it, to reveal that it is fitted out as a small cocktail cabinet complete with bottles, glasses, shaker, and ice bucket. “Can I fix yer a drink, Ma?”
“Sure thing, why not.”
Inside the house, Priscilla, Elvis’s wife, is fretful about Minnie Mae being outside. She pleads with Elvis: Is she going to be out there all night? What if she falls asleep? What if they rush the house? Shouldn’t some of the boys be out there with her?
“Dodger is like a rattlesnake,” he replies. “Her eyes might be closed, but behind those eyelids of hers, she’s wide awake and ready to strike. With that old gun, she can hit a rat’s eye at 200 paces and blow a hole in a tank with the same shot.”
Colonel Parker adds that they cannot risk Elvis being outside in case the military police send in a snatch squad that somehow gets through. He tells them he needs to go and make some phone calls to the main TV channels and newspapers. “That fool of a military police captain has handed me a million dollars’ worth of publicity.”
He holds his hand out, palm upwards and tells them, “It feels like rain. I’m telling you, once the Colonel has finished, it’s going to be raining dollars here at Graceland, heh heh heh.”
Captain Ludendorf soon returns with double the number of military policemen and they are crouched behind their jeep that’s parked halfway down the drive. One of the MPs who is training his binoculars on Graceland tells him, “Sir, I’ve got a clear shot. I can take out the old lady with the gun.”
“Are you mad?” shouts the Captain, flinging his cap to the ground in anger. “Shoot Elvis’s grandmother? We’d get lynched – and that’s just what the army will do to us. Can you imagine if Elvis’s fans were to get hold of us?”
“Sorry about that, sir. I thought we’d be covered by military necessity.”
“Give me those binoculars, I think there’s something going on.” He focuses them on the front door, shakes his head, wipes the lenses clean, refocuses the binoculars, and mutters, “Oh no no no no. I don’t believe this. What’s he doing there? And how did he get in?”
Liberace walks out onto the portico of Graceland in a full-length white ermine coat draped over his shoulders, which Brother George carefully removes to reveal that Liberace is wearing a black diamante encrusted, long-tailed jacket with a piano keyboard pattern on both lapels, matching black shorts and knee-length white socks. Brother George returns with an ornate gilt chair which he flicks with a monogrammed duster and puts it next to Minnie Mae so that Liberace can sit down. He returns again with a small antique side table on which he puts a fabulous Louis XlVth candelabrum, the finest in their collection.
“Good morning Minnie Mae and Aunt Delta,” says Liberace.
“Mornin’ Lee,” replies Minnie Mae.
“As very dear friends of Elvis, Brother George and I wanted to be here to stand alongside him in his hour of peril. We didn’t want to bring Momma in case things got, well, you know, a bit rough.”
“Why thankee, Lee,” Minnie Mae tells him. “There’s no knowin’ how things are gonna go. But y’all can bet yer best grand piano that they ain’t a-takin’ Elvis. He ain’t a-going ter Viet Nam. An’ he ain’t gonna be fightin’ them King Kong.” “You mean the Viet Cong,” says Liberace helpfully.
“Yea, an’ them as well.”
“Oh Lordy no,” groans Captain Ludendorf as he continues to look through his binoculars at the front of Graceland. He did not think it could get any worse, but it just has. He watches as James Brown dances and does a couple of splits on his way across the length of the portico before ending with a spin on one leg in front of Minnie Mae and Liberace. “Hi brothers and sisters,” he greets them. “Soul Brother Number One is here to join the cause and stand shoulder to shoulder with Elvis and Liberace.”
Brother George brings him a chair and Aunt Delta offers to fix him a drink. And then adds, as a little joke, only if he says “Please Please Please.”
An hour later there is a media frenzy, the flames of which have been fanned by Colonel Parker, outside the gates of Graceland. Captain Ludendorf is on his radio phone to request advice on what to do, and for more back-up. There is a cavalcade of TV outside broadcast units and newspaper cars stretching all the way back to downtown Memphis. Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and Walter Winchell are standing at the Music Gates with their camera crews doing live broadcasts.
Thanks to the information that has been passed on by the Colonel, Walter Cronkite is telling millions of TV viewers, “Is this what the United States of America has come to? I cannot believe it, and you, the viewers won’t either. But I am witnessing with my own eyes a terrible injustice. Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, a man who served his country with honour and dignity, a man who was awarded a medal, is to be arrested for what I am assured is a trumped-up minor misdemeanour. This is America’s Day of Shame.”
Dan Rather is telling his viewers that Elvis’s grandmother will link arms with Liberace, James Brown, and Hal Wallis to form a human shield to defy the military police. “I am reliably informed they will tell them: ‘Shoot if you dare, but you’re not taking Elvis’.”
One of the TV channels has brought along a couple of retired generals to tell viewers just how they would bring a speedy and successful conclusion to the siege.
Captain Lundendorf is under orders to end the siege as quickly as possible because the army is being made to look like a bunch of fools on millions of TV screens and in millions of newspapers across the world. How can the mightiest military machine in history be seen to be failing to capture one man?
“If we can’t do this, what chance have we got against the Russians?” a four-star general tells Captain Ludendorf from behind his desk at the Pentagon. “Get this mission accomplished now!”
“I think I need more reinforcements, sir,” he replies. “We may come under fire. At least one of them guarding Elvis Presley is armed.” (He neglects to add that it is a little old lady with an antique buffalo gun.)
Later, the Captain scans the portico of Graceland through his binoculars to see that only Liberace and James Brown are sitting there. This looks like it is the right moment to make his move. With a wave of his arm, two armoured personnel carriers and a platoon of military policemen on foot with bayonets fixed begin to trundle up the drive.
As they come to a stop outside Graceland, Charlie Hodge, Elvis’s buddy and faithful gofer who has been with him since he served in the army in Germany, opens the front door. He is only 5 foot 3 inches tall and the Elvis Vegas jumpsuit he is wearing is so baggy that you could get another couple of Charlies inside. But he shouts out, “I am Elvis!” Next to emerge is Colonel Parker, bursting out of a Vegas jumpsuit and with his hair dyed black, to stand alongside Charlie and announce, “I am Elvis!” The next one to join them and proclaim defiantly “I am Elvis” is Dr. Nick. The procession of Elvises in Vegas outfits with their hair dyed black continues to walk out of the front door one after another and shout “I am Elvis!”: Bubba, the Colonel’s assistant; Red and Sonny West, cousins and members of the Memphis Mafia, who are in charge of security; Vernon, his father; Priscilla, his wife; grandmother Minnie Mae; Aunt Delta; his hairdresser Larry Geller; movie producer Hal Wallis; Brother George and record producer Steve Sholes. Even Lamar Fike, a long-time member of the Memphis Mafia, steps out on to the portico. Although, unlike the others, he is too fat to squeeze into a jumpsuit, he wears a tan-coloured linen suit, which has enough cloth to make a small circus tent, and a black wig and declares, “I am Elvis.” The last to come out of Graceland is Old Shep, Elvis’s dog, with a card around his next saying ‘I am Elvis’. He flops down and starts scratching his fleas.
“Captain Ludendorf, sir, I can report we have 16 Elvises if you include the dog,” reports a Sergeant. “They cannot all be the right Elvis, sir.”
“No Sergeant, but one of them surely is. So let’s leave the dog and take all the rest of them to Camp Benedict Arnold and we’ll sort it out there.”
“Very good, sir. And what about Liberace and James Brown? What should we do with them?”
“Well they are not Elvis are they, Sergeant? We’ll leave them here. They can look after the dog.”
And so the convoy, with 15 Elvises sitting on benches in an armoured personnel carrier, sets off for Fort Benedict Arnold, followed by the media caravan of TV outside broadcast trucks and cars and taxis carrying journalists and photographers.
Walter Cronkite is telling viewers, “I can assure you that I am not making this up. This is really happening here in Memphis. Elvis Presley must be the most famous and easily recognisable person in the world. But the military police here at the siege of Graceland have arrested and are taking away 15 people claiming to be Elvis because they didn’t know which is the real one.” The camera pans from Walter Cronkite to show 15 weird-looking Elvises sitting in the back of the personnel carrier. “Folks are saying that this could be the biggest military blunder since Napoleon set off for Moscow,” Walter Cronkite continues.
The Captain decides that what they need – and quick – is an identity parade to end all the ‘I am Elvis’ nonsense. So he decides to send for George Klein, the Memphis disc jockey, to be brought to the army camp to pick out the real Elvis. He has been a close friend since they were at high school together, and if anyone knows who Elvis is, it’s George. But as he walks along the line of 15 Elvises standing against the wall, he notes the sly wink from Colonel Parker. He walks back along the line, stopping to look carefully at each one in turn, and all the while fighting hard to stop himself from laughing. After a lot of rubbing his chin and shaking his head, he admits, “I don’t know. They could all be Elvis.”
Captain Ludendorf is incredulous. ‘”How on earth do you make that out? Some of them are women. At the very least how can they be Elvis?”
George shrugs his shoulders and tells him, “I haven’t seen Elvis for a couple of months and, you know, people can change.”
The Captain, who can hear sniggers from some of the Elvises in the line-up, could weep with frustration.
As a result of a tip-off, the terrible truth dawns on Captain Ludendorf and the military police: they have taken 15 Elvises into custody – in an event that is being broadcast and published across virtually every TV station and newspaper around the world – and not one of them is the real Elvis. In fact, the truth is that they have left him behind at Graceland, dressed as Liberace, the two of them having swapped outfits.
Captain Ludendorf is told he is wanted on the phone in his office and that it is urgent.
“Is that Private Ludendorf?” says a voice.
“No, this is Captain Ludendorf.”
“No, I was right the first time Private. This is the Commander in Chief, President Nixon. I’ve been watching all this from the Oval Office. You have made the armed forces a laughing stock. Millions are watching and they have not laughed so much at the army since Sergeant Bilko was the top-rated show on TV. Even I couldn’t stop myself laughing at times and I’m the Commander in Chief.”
Earlier President Nixon and his team of advisors had to suspend work on a draft finance bill, as well as postpone a meeting with the Secretary General of the United Nations, in order to find a way out of the crisis developing over the arrest of Elvis. Or what has now transpired into a major military show of force to arrest the wrong Elvis. The wrinkles on the President’s face deepen and beads of sweat pop out on his brow as he pours himself a drink of scotch. An aide hurries into the Oval Office to report that Buckingham Palace has been on the line; The Queen of England is worried about Mr. Presley and will the President call her as soon as possible. “How in hell can this have happened?” asks the President emptying his glass.
“It’s a snafu, sir,” says an aide.
“How the hell did Elvis’s name come up anyway?” he asks and at a nod of his head, an aide refills his glass.
“Clearly, he wasn’t on any Reserve List. What a farce. But luckily, it’s nothing to do with me,” he says to his aides. “I’m as clean as a whistle on this one. As for this idiot Ludendorf… haven’t we got a weather station in the Artic Circle? I want him there on a five-year mission as soon as this thing is cleared up.”
“One last thing, Mr. President,” says an aide. “This could play very badly in the polls, I mean trying to arrest Elvis of all people – Mr. America himself. The voters might well see this as a monumental screw-up and we may have to do something big to be seen to be doing the right thing by Elvis. We’ve got to claw back credibility big time.”
Eventually, President Nixon and his aides manage to concoct a story involving a mix-up with names that they hope will work and will take the heat off of the situation. Private Ludendorf is ordered to return to Graceland to apologise to Elvis, his family, and entourage and then to hold a press conference at the Music Gates.
“The army and the military police want to apologise for what was a clerical error,” he tells the media. “We were acting on the information given to us but the person we should have actually detained was an Alvin Priestley and not Elvis Presley. Obviously, something must have gotten garbled in transmission. We are sorry but lessons have been learned and nothing like this will ever happen again. Meanwhile, the military police will ceaselessly continue to pursue and detain the said Alvin Priestley.”
Fabulous short stories about the King & his entourage - 20.02.2022
As a life-long Elvis fan I loved the concept of these short stories & couldn't wait to read them - I was not disappointed! Really enjoyed the book, it's beautifully written & has an almost Bilko vibe to it with the Colonel frequently looking for the next money making scam. A real giggle!