Blinded at Heartbreak Hotel By Rufus Dupree

November 24, 2014 Comments Off on Blinded at Heartbreak Hotel By Rufus Dupree

This is the story of how rock n’roll claimed my left eye. Elvis stole it. Ripped it out of its socket when he reached through the television into our living room. It was 1957, and he was on the Ed Sullivan show singing “Heartbreak Hotel.” Mother was out smoking a joint with the Lutheran pastor, and everything seemed to be fitting into some cosmic jigsaw puzzle for me. Until Elvis removed my eye.

“Believe me,” Elvis said, holding it as though it were a Faberge egg. “You gotta spread the light around.”

“What about my sight?”

“You had a good run,” he said. “Pass it on to the less fortunate now.”

I told Elvis I was only sixteen. That I had hardly begun to live. I always thought I would be an actor. My teacher loved that play I’d put together with my buddies about the ghost train and the idealistic soldier. An example of fine work, she said, the sort of performance that could thwart the Soviets.

“I know your writing,” Elvis said, grinning at me. “I was sorting through your mother’s pills before the show and I saw your story.”

“What were you doing with the pills?”

I hoped Mother would liberate me, reach out and shield me from this pelvis-shaking hound-dog.

But no.

She and the preacher were singing their Lutheran hymns and laughing like two ducks, blowing smoke rings through their noses. The room was bathed in the blue of the screen, and Elvis kept walking through it, as though it were a shallow creek. He snapped his fingers and laughed, just as he reached the boundary of my living room.

“Your story is prideful. All about the sacred self. There is no self.” He shook his hips.

“What sort of philosophical thinking is that?”

“You think you got the world on your shoulders. Am I right?”

Elvis pulled out a crimson-bound notebook, shaking his head.

“God, the Redistributor of the Universe, knows you,” he said. “You wear your pride on the shoulders of others. The meek are the masters, boy.”

“What others?”

Elvis just shook his head and looked down at his guitar, strumming a few chords.

“Come off it, Elvis. What pride? Because I’m an actor? You’re a damned actor, too.”

Elvis motioned to me, and my empty socket expanded into gray nothingness until I was left alone with the night and Mother’s mint-like reefer, a blind stranger.

© 2014 Rufus Dupree

Rufus Dupree is a self-proclaimed Romantic and graduate of Boise State University with a BA in political science. His short-stories have been published in The Fat City Review and Postcard Shorts, and his flash-fiction piece, “Traces” is scheduled for publication in The Bookends Review. He lives in Boise, Idaho.

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