As we heard the Elvis music crank up, the hubby jokingly said, “Maybe that was a dead body in that garbage bag!” Yeah, right. The guy couldn’t be that crazy! Walking into the dark old house, we were overwhelmed by all that we saw. It was more than our eyes could take in. From floor to ceiling, even tacked to the ceiling, were Elvis photos, records, shower curtains…it was surreal. Could we really have just walked into a home? Surely this was a museum, although a poorly kept one, instead of a place where a man (with a family?) came to retreat from the stresses of the world. The sweaty, silk-clad man returned to the door and re-locked all those locks we had heard him unlocking. Quickly he began to tell us all about his love of Elvis and how he had collected his treasures for virtually his entire life. We could barely hear his words over the ever-increasing thump of our heartbeats! Had this man, whose dentures were far too big for his mouth, seriously just locked us in the house?!? And why was he getting louder with each word? As quickly as he’d locked the front door, he unlocked a second door and motioned for us to go in. “Uh, no, you first” didn’t seem to compute with his brain. He appeared agitated that we hadn’t followed his directions, so we quickly walked into the room. Naively thinking he’d leave said door open, he entered the room and locked the door behind him. Okay, really? We’re locked in this tiny room with you? This was more than we’d bargained for and were beginning to feel more and more uneasy. He enthusiastically told us about the roll of carpet that was identical to the carpet in Graceland and how that home was “imitated—never duplicated!”.
It was in this tiny, hot, pad locked room that I began to feel like we had made a real mistake. The more this man talked, the louder he got. The louder he got, the more he threw around his hands. The more he threw around his hands, the more his false teeth began to slip around in his mouth. I was creeped out. This was not what I’d bargained for! A few Elvis pictures, maybe a half-eaten pork chop, but not this! As he was talking, I was looking around the room. Apparently this irritated Elvis-man. He began to swat at my arm so that I’d look at him while he talked. When, in his fervor he used the phrase “chop up my family into tiny bits if I’m lying”, I nearly soiled myself. How did we get ourselves into this and how in the world would we ever get out?!?! That joke about the dead body in the garbage bag began to replay itself in our minds. Louder and louder my heart began to beat. When Elvis-man told us his wife had given him the ultimatum of her or Elvis and he chose Elvis, well, how do you respond to that?! And then he told us his son’s legal name—Elvis Aaron Presley [Last_Name]. Oh my word. This was over the top.
He led us toward the kitchen where the smell would have burned the hairs out of a rat’s nose! To this day we could not describe for you the putrid smell coming forth from that kitchen. Our eyes fell upon the strangest sight of all—and that’s saying something in that house! There, on the kitchen table, was a life-sized plastic Nativity set. Inscribed in Sharpie marker on Baby Jesus were the words, “The King loved the King of Kings”. Oh my. It seemed we had stumbled upon a religious man?! It was in the kitchen where the man, who had begun to hit our arms more frequently, cranked up the volume on the Elvis tunes. I looked at the hubs with a terror unlike any I’d ever known! I thought my ears were bleeding from the sheer volume when the crazy Elvis-man took the karaoke mic from the radio and began shouting at the top of his lungs, “KING CREOLE LIVED IN NEW ORLEANS!!!!”. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I wanted my Mommy! But mostly, I wanted out of that house! The hubs told the man to turn the music down…he didn’t seem to like that, but, thankfully, he obliged. As I checked my ears for blood, he led us to the back door. Sweet Jesus in heaven had heard my heart’s cry! We were being released from the house of horrors! Except for one minor detail I had forgotten…the six foot high fencing with razor wire. The back yard was not an exit.
It was there, in the backyard, that the wild-eyed homeowner began to tell us his dream for sleepy Holly Springs. He wanted to buy the whole town and turn it into an Elvis themed retreat for all those who loved the King. His home was to be the jailhouse…in homage to “Jailhouse Rock”. He’d even built an electric chair, and I, he told me, would be the next to sit in it! What’cho talkin’ ‘bout, Elvis? Unh uh. Not me. Not gonna do it. Nope. I’m not…okay, I’ll go look at it. We found ourselves walking across the yard toward a homemade electric chair—wires, screws, a car battery?!?! We looked at each other with a knowing look—this was it. This was where we’d go to meet Jesus. In the home of a crazed Elvis fan in a backward town of rural Mississippi!