The tears of Elvis taste of milk and honey. One drop can cure the hiccups. Two drops can neutralize the venom from a snake bite. Pilgrims visit at all hours of the night, check their bindles at the door. Some from as far as Dyersburg. They leave me marveling at the speed with which word travels. To pay their respects they place gifts at his feet, a sacrifice of sorts: artisan chocolates, hair wax, spring lilies. They ask about the origins of the statue, and I tell them how it was abandoned by the previous tenant, interred beneath a loose board in the bedroom closet. (It’s not much of a story, but I’m not much of a storyteller.) On his birthday or day or passing, they hold candlelight vigils in the courtyard, sleep in crudely pitched tents. Impersonators strum chords on their sequined guitars and opportunists peddle merchandise from the backs of their vans. If the noise becomes a problem, the landlord switches on the sprinklers. Upon purchasing a vial of tears, an old man in an ushanka cap offers to take the statue off my hands. He says he operates a museum of oddities just off the highway, and then, uncomfortable with his choice of words, changes the establishment to a garage of oddities. He says he is willing to part with his entire billfold, punch cards included, but I turn him down. After all, how do you put a price on a miracle? He writes down his pager number, in case I change my mind, and I wonder if the decision I made was the right one… Behind its half-closed eyes I can’t help but suspect the statue is harboring some terrible secret. And soon, with my suitcase packed, I’ll have no other choice but to return the icon to its dusky tomb underneath the floorboards, a relic for the next tenant to find.
“Weeping King” by Ravi Mangla
October 31, 2011 By 1 Comment