Read Elvissey Online

Authors: Jack Womack


Also by Jack Womack




Random Acts of Senseless Violence

Gets Put the Future Behind Us



All my love
For Carrie


"Elvis died several years before he saved me from
drowning. My late husband's chihuahua, Betty, fell off
the pier and I dove in after her, forgetting I couldn't
swim. As I sank beneath the waves a strong hand pulled
me out. Though the glow of His suit blinded me I saw
His face, bathed in beatific light. Averting my eyes
before His glory burned me I realized that without my
having to ask He'd washed me in His love and I'd walk
with Him ever after. As I dropped to my knees He
ascended into the clouds, shining like the evening star.
I didn't understand why He didn't save Betty but I
know there must be a reason, there has to be."

-hom "Postludinal Testimonies,"

The Book of E (Vegassene)

Ascension, I craved; my husband dreamed of descent. At our
meet that set our seal.

"Zen," Conrad repeated. "Zen, not zinc. Zen, zen, zen."

"Think philosophy, not metal, to correctly phrase," said

Aware that present is bearable only when future makes it
past, my husband and I often found ourselves creating images of what we believed our marriage had been, or of the
people we once thought we were. But I was unable any
longer to take comfort from holograms of the spirit, for
when I tried clasping their shimmers against me, they dissolved under touch as reflections in water.

"Cruisin'-" I replayed, following my teachers' lead.

"Zen," Weber said.

We'd tried timeover to regood ourselves; perceived, we
thought, that we never would. Then our company gifted us,
heaving an assignment our way, rippling our stasis; we believed it our last chance to recover what we'd had as we
plunged in, heedless of depth.

"Cruisin'-" I repeated; they nodded. Conrad and Weber
were forensic philologists, adept in resuscitating dead languages so that, once alive again, the words might be appropriately vivisected. For my husband and myself, in
preparation for our assignment, they ran their class, Slang
Lab-Slab, I rephrased. Slab underwayed on Philosophy
Hall's fifth, at Columbia, on Morningside Heights, under
Dryco aegis. We all worked for Dryco, for whom there were
no betters to work; no others, in truth, whether regooded or
not. "Cruisin' for a bruisin'."

Words skidded smooth off my tongue, however their friction, at intervals, burned my tutors' ears. This time, having
mimed proper, I'd delighted them. "AO," said Conrad, offering what John called a switchblade smile. "Demetaform."

Metaphor meaning, they meant; I considered all likely
interpretations, deciding upon one that personally pleased.
"One finds trouble when and where it's sought," I said. But
why seek trouble when it finds you so easily?

"Apt," said Weber. "Next," he requested of his monitor;
its blue eye refused to wink. "Phrase me."

"Moderate tone to effect interface-" Conrad began to

"Phrase, " Weber commanded, his voice and color deepening. "Please," he added; at last received response. Hieroglyphs emerged from the blue as Venus rose from the sea.
Staring doorways as Weber deciphered, longlost argot ringing twixt my ears, I glimpsed a woman hallwayed, downbound, carrying a veiled container; one of the artists, I
reckoned. A workperson, too, strolled amid students, bloodying her orange coverall with reddened hands. During the
month my husband and I trained oncampus, razored vines
were loosed from all college walls that ivy might again shoot
unslashed veins along clot-colored brick, revealing regooded structures fit to house regooded souls. Regooding
proposed to make all that was long-wrong rainright once

"Ah," Weber murmured, studying the text at last revealed. "Comprehended."

By regooding, Dryco proclaimed to all that security was
assured. In my mind it unimagined that security could ever
be secure. "Bonney," Weber continued, addressing me.
"Hear and replay."

Isabel, my mind rephrased; my name is Isabel, that name
is my own. Isabel Bonney overran my boundaries; admitted
my husband, my other who sat so near, too dangerously
deep into my being. I loved him; there were none I loved as
I loved my husband, but his is not my name. Call me Isabel.

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