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Elvis


When I was a boy, I saw Elvis eating a burger at our local diner. He sat shirtless beneath a beach umbrella, staring off in the horizon, a dab of ketchup running down his greasy chin.  He had no chest hairs left if he had ever had any before.  It’s rude to stare, my mother said.  But Elvis was so much whiter and flabbier than the rest of the people on our island; I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I think he was the first dead man I ever saw, though many followed.  Like Picasso who was at the diner a week later, his gaze fixed on my mother.  And Nijinsky who kept racing down our sandy beaches, twirling and leaping, his arms outstretched like a bird.  I could tell he was jealous of the ease with which the gulls lifted up into the air and over the waves, though soon he rose after them.


The famous, I learned then, are often too jealous to just die.  They come to our island to heal their tortured minds and escape their fans, the heat of so many eyes watching them, even in the afterlife.  It’s a strange thing, my mother said, that whatever one most wants in life will one day become a curse. All the famous have ever really wanted is what everyone wants, meaning to be mothered, to be adored, to be held in soft, bare arms.  To feel as if they are the only ones on earth.


The women on our island know this, and all the women on our island have beautiful arms.  To be held in the arms of our women, to be rocked, is heaven on earth.  My mother is right. Our women’s arms are all everyone yearns for.  But no one yearns like the famous.  Our women take the famous in their tender embraces and give them everything they have lacked, everything they have never had.  Yes, the famous say. Yes, yes! to whatever our women ask as they melt like ice on our island flesh. In this way, the famous are bred like race horses, and all of their talents enter our island blood stream, as do their shadows, their dreams, their extra-large thighs.




Nin Andrews