If I Can Dream - The Return of the King

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story I wrote as a bit of fun to distract me from the pressures of writing my second book. For more information click the link at the top of the story and like the page.

Submitted: March 05, 2017

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Submitted: March 05, 2017




August 14th 2016
Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis

Danny Alexander is laying in his hospital bed awaiting a visit from his doctor. With his mother and father by his bedside, he feels like crying at just how unfair life can be. He is just thirteen years of age but due to the large cancerous tumour which is growing inside of his chest, he is unable to act like a regular youngster. Turning his head away so as to stop his mother seeing the tears forming in his eyes, the realisation of just how unfair life can be hits home again. He has done everything the doctors have asked. He has suffered the side effects of his treatment and never once moaned. He has stayed in when others played out, lost his hair while his friends began to experiment with new haircuts and he has watched both of his parents lose weight and the ability to smile because of this damn disease. As he continues to gaze out of the window he is resigned to the fact that it is going to cost him his dream trip to Graceland.

He can’t remember the first time he heard Elvis music. His mother, June, plays him so much it is a wonder he didn’t come out of the womb singing about hound dogs and shaking his little legs. He does know that it was almost exactly two years ago to this day that he first fell in love with the man people know as the king of rock and roll. On that warm California evening, he and his family had returned to their beachside home in a state of shock at his diagnosis. They had ridden home in virtual silence before spending the evening discussing how strong he would have to be and reading pamphlet after pamphlet to get a better understanding of the road ahead.

Finally, when he could take no more, he had kissed his parent's goodnight and headed up to his bedroom. That night when he was sure that no one could see, Danny had broken down and sobbed until he didn’t think his body was capable of sobbing no more. With his eyes stinging from the tears and all sorts of awful thoughts going through his young mind, Danny had turned to music to distract himself. He had pressed his earphones deeply into his ears and pushed the shuffle button on his iPod, at first the song playing back was not familiar to him. He knew the voice of course but it was only when the words ‘Don’t Cry Daddy’ were sung to him did he realise what he was listening to. Danny played that song four times in a row that night, and he has not gone a day since without listening to it. It’s gentle tune and heartfelt lyrics touched him in a way music had not before.

With the gates opened Danny had spent the past two years using Elvis and his voice as his comfort blanket. If he is riding in the car with his parents they will sing the songs to each other or if he is playing music through his earphones the odds are it will be some Elvis album or another. He knows that these moments have helped him and his parents through the hell of the past two years and it is why all three of them are so upset that this once in a lifetime trip, an unfortunate expression for his father to use considering his circumstances, to Graceland in Memphis was looking all the more unlikely.

Two months ago the doctors had told Danny that his body had not reacted well to the latest treatments. ‘Hope is not lost’ they'd said to him in an attempt to raise his spirits ‘but we do have to accept that the chances of you beating this go down with each failed treatment.’ There had been no Elvis music on the way home that day. Once again the car was silent right until the point of them pulling into the driveway. Then with a fake smile on his face, his father, Gerry, had turned around to face him and told him all about this surprise trip to Memphis. ‘We didn’t get the news we wanted today did we AD but that isn’t going to stop us fighting this is it my boy?’ Danny couldn’t help but smile at his father’s use of his nickname AD. It was one his parents had given him to both mimic the EP name Elvis friends are believed to have called him and to help make up for his lack of time with kids his own age. ‘As you have been so brave your mother and I have decided that August 14th – 17th we are going on a family trip to MEMPHIS baby!’

If the aim had been to help Danny forget about his diagnosis it certainly worked a treat. With a renewed vigour he had thrown himself into his treatment and with his own pilgrimage to Elvis’s house to look forward to Gerry and June watched with pride at the new found optimism their son seemed to have.

Sadly for the family, the optimism has now run out. Just two hours ago, and only five minutes into his holiday Danny Alexander collapsed in Memphis International airport and had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance.

As both parents sit on the hard plastic chairs that are next to their son's bed and watch the doctor read from his charts they are filled with dread as to what will happen if this trip doesn’t go ahead. It is why June jumps to her feet and follows the doctor out of the room. With tears in her eyes, she explains the reasoning for the trip and begs the doctor to still let her beautiful and brave baby boy go.

‘Well miss, your son is not a well boy. In his condition, the flight has really taken it out of him. All we can do is wait and see, if he reacts well over night and things settle down there is a chance that he may be ok to leave in a few days but I wouldn’t want to guarantee it’ with that he turns on his heels and walks away, his footsteps echoing in the empty corridor.

Two minutes later June pulls her chair up next to the bed and takes her boys hand. ‘I can’t go can I’ he asks the second he feels her touch. ‘They don’t know yet baby, but I know in my heart that we will go. I know that if you pray hard enough God hears you and sometimes he changes a few little things for the good people. So close your eyes and pray with me, Danny.’

To please his mother Danny does close his eyes, but he doesn’t pray to any God. Instead, he thinks about how cool it would have been to see Elvis's jungle room or to spend time looking at his gold records. He has to admit that it is pretty cool to be in the same hospital that he knows Elvis stayed in during his lifetime but he would love it if just for once he got lucky and his body recovered enough to get him to Graceland.

August 14th, 2016
Cloud Number 9,876 – The Graceland Cloud.

Sitting in a large gold chair in the master bedroom of his Graceland Cloud Mansion, Elvis Presley is once again in a very bad mood. In his left hand, he is carrying a letter he received this morning informing him that for the twelfth year in a row his application to return to earth has been rejected. To say he is frustrated would be an understatement. As he reads the letter again he puffs hard on the large cigar hanging from his mouth before finally jumping to his feet and throwing the letter onto the fluffy white floor. ‘God Damn it,’ he shouts forcing the five members of his heaven mafia to wake from their slumber. ‘How can they do this me Charlie’ he blurts out in his most sincere voice. ‘How can they say I broke the rules man…I mean other than the incident with the builders what have I really done that bad?’

Despite appearing calm and smiling, Charlie, like the rest of his mafia, is deeply concerned about his boss's mood. Oh, they had all known this day was coming, just like it does every year. Every day they receive the same knock on the door as every other heavenly home, but unlike their neighbours the Graceland mansion does not send any spirits heading out to do good deeds and angel jobs. Instead, they ignore the knocks and sleep till late. Then when everyone is awake and Elvis has finally decided which of his outfits to appear in they gather around the stunning replica of his front room and reminisce about the good old days. For hours they will chat about the glory years on earth or the fun they'd had during his first few years as a ghost.

Everything had seemed to be perfect when just four years after his death he was able to move his mother and recently passed on father into his newly created Graceland in the sky. The party they had, had that night when Lennon, Nixon, Monroe and many more of their famous friends had attended was described as the best party in heaven since the arrival of President Kennedy. Yet just six years later, which isn’t really that long a time in the spirit world, their entire world had fallen apart when Saint Peter had written to inform them that Elvis application to be a part-time ghost had been rejected.

Later that afternoon they had sat in the big guys office and listened despondently to the reasons for his failure. In ten years, he had broken four of the seven deadly sins, the creation of his Graceland cloud mansion managed to break two, but most importantly his refusal to take part in any of his angel duties and instead hang out in his home had guaranteed that he would not get his pass.

Angry and hurt Elvis has withdrawn to his cloud bedroom and not spoken to anyone for three months. They all knew how desperate he was to get back. How desperate he was to walk around his beloved home and once again be back in Memphis, but none of them had imagined he would take it quite this badly. Even when he did emerge from his room they had all noticed how much he had lost his sparkle. For the first ten years in heaven he had loved having the ability to change his appearance or clothing at will or to be able to eat any meal you like by just using the power of imagination, but after he came back down from the bedroom he had remained constantly dressed in his powerful blue suit with a cape for an accessory. There has been no more flitting from Elvis in 56 to Elvis at Aloha, instead, he has remained forever looking as he did on that fateful day when he gained access to the White House and spoke to the president. Sure, they still had their good days, in fact, sometimes it seemed like the rejection was an issue of the past and that Elvis had settled back into his new life. But then something would happen to bring it all back to the surface. It could be an old story triggering a memory or the sight of one of his neighbours returning from the earth but whatever it was, when it came they all knew better than to stop his outbursts.

Even now as he rants and slams down his cane Charlie resists the urge to get up and rest a white hand on his shoulder. He knows there is no point, the only person who can help Elvis snap out of these moods is his mama and she is currently back on the earth doing what she calls gods work. In the midst of his reminiscing, Charlie fails to notice Elvis saying his name. He is so lost in thought that he doesn’t notice his friend floating towards him and it is only when he shouts ‘Damn it Charlie’ that he springs into action.

‘You have not listened to a God damn thing I said have you?’ Elvis asks.
‘Sorry EP’
‘Ah to hell with it, listen I need you to go around the front and pick up the Cadillac. I will be out in five minutes’

‘Really? Are we going out? Are you going to work, oh Elvis what a go-‘

‘Of course, we are not going to work. I am Elvis Presley I worked all my life to entertain people I will be damned if I am working during my retirement. No boy we are going the top floor’

Charlie can’t help but gulp at his bosses announcement. ‘The top floor….Elvis are you sure, I mean I think you need an appointment to get in there’

‘Yea I am sure. And to heck with appointments. I am Elvis Presley, I don't need any appointment.’

August 14th, 2016
Cloud Number? – The Top Floor Waiting Room.

Saint Peter can’t help but smile at the sight of Elvis Presley walking through his large gates. He has been waiting for almost forty years for the moment when this spirit finally built up the courage to appeal his rejection in person. He has seen and dealt with all of these musical types over the years. Even Lennon, a man whose music he secretly had a soft spot for had been turned out of this room with no pass and a list of jobs he needed to do to repent for his sins. Yes, Peter was more than ready to tell Presley to sling his hook when the large golden door behind his desk sprung open and a blinding light filled the entire reception. ‘Peter my child, we really have to get maintenance to fix these lights’ God says before he notices the sight of Elvis Presley striding towards him.

‘God pleased to see you again. My name is Elvis Presley and I have a matter of real importance to discuss with you’

Peter almost gasps in shock at Elvis's actions. Never in the infinite years that he has stood by his lord’s side has he seen someone walk up to him so brazenly and ask to speak to him. He is out of his chair, with his mouth is open, ready to demand Elvis show some respect when God turns towards him and asks him to sit back down. ‘Ah Presley, I am glad you got my letter. Please step into my office’

With a smile on his face and wink at Peter, Elvis follows God into his surprisingly modest office. ‘I can sense you are not impressed with my surroundings Mr Presley’.

‘Well, to be honest, I assumed you would have a nicer place than this God. If you like I can put you in contact with the guys who made my home, it took me a while to track them down but they did a really good job’

With a smile and a shake of his head, God dismisses Elvis's advice. ‘Thank you Elvis, but I have called you here for a matter more pressing than my humble home’

Confused Elvis takes a seat from the corner of the office and pulls up next to God. ‘You know Elvis it is somewhat of a tradition for people to wait for me to offer them a seat’ ‘Yea, I know that God but I have had a long journey this morning and I am sure you don’t want me to be tired. And anyway what do you mean called me? I came here to discuss this letter I got’ and with that Elvis dropped his latest rejection letter on the desk.

‘You mean you ignored my messenger this morning. Mr Presley, I do sometimes wonder why you bothered to add a door to your oversized house as you do not seem willing to answer it’

‘Well see I am sorry about that God, me and the guys assumed it was one of those damned do-gooders coming to try and make me go to work’

‘Firstly, Mr Presley we do not make anyone do anything in the kingdom of Heaven. We do however expect that in order to take advantage of the benefits we offer our inhabitants do their small part and help out. You would do well to remember that.’

‘Would you mind if I give it some more thought. I honestly have considered it a lot recently and I do believe that I am almost ready to look into these duties. What exactly do they involve?’

‘Mr Presley, I am not here to deal with admin matters such as that. I will, however, say that everyone’s task is unique to them, and the rewards they will earn always make them very worthwhile.’

‘Got you. So you said you wanted to see me’

‘Yes, I have good news for you, Mr Presley. You see the letter you so charmingly dropped on my desk is rather outdated now. Just this morning I personally reviewed your file and due to some developing circumstances I am happy to inform you that the moment you leave this office you will have a temporary pass to return to earth and carry on our work amongst the living.’

Unable to control himself Elvis jumps from his chair and attempts to wrap his arms around God. Of course, his hands go right through him but the gesture of hugging God manages to make his already good mood that little bit more special.

‘God damn it I knew it!’ he shouts. ‘I knew you would see sense in the end.’

At the sound of shouting and cursing Peter jumps from his desk and quickly walks into the office. He is briefly struck dumb by the sight in front of him. Indeed, he is so shocked that he struggles to understand the image of a shocked looking God being attacked by that brute of a rock star.

‘ELVIS’ he shouts at the top of his heavenly lungs. ‘Take your hands away from our God and saviour. It is behaviour like this that guarantees that I will NEVER approve you or any of your shameful followers to return to earth.’

‘That is enough of that thank you Peter’ God calmly says. ‘And I guess I should let you know as well, Mr Presley will soon be returning to earth. Now be a good chap and go prepare the paperwork.’

Unable to resist Elvis smiles at Peter before saying ‘Yeah, be a good guy Pete. Me and God here are almost finished.’ The sound of the door slamming is music to Elvis' ears.

‘Mr Presley, I feel the need to inform you that when you leave this office you will be back in a place you feel most comfortable with. In your left hand will be a letter. It is essential that you read and understand its contents. You will have fifteen minutes to sign the letter or the deal is off and you will return to your cloud and have to apply again next year. Now, do you understand’

‘Yes, yes I do God and thank you very much for this opportunity man.’

‘You are welcome Mr Presley now before you leave do you have any other questions?’

‘Well yeah, there is one thing which has always bothered me’

‘Ask now my child’

‘Well, you invented clothes yea?’

‘Yes, Mr Presley I am the creator of the heaven and the earth and all of its wonders’

‘So, what is the deal with the white robe and sandals man. I mean really you should be wearing something that symbolises your position. Take me for instance, folks just got to look at me and they KNOW who I am and what I do. If it is a confidence thing I can maybe help you with that.’

‘That will be all Mr Presley, now please be on your way I have a busy day ahead of me’

Elvis is just about to open his mouth and argue when the floor opens up below him. For ten or fifteen seconds, he seems to drop down to earth with all the contents of the universe whizzing by his face. He is just about to throw up and scream when he lands with a thump on the soft red carpet of a room he knows all too well, his bathroom in his beloved Graceland. Quickly he jumps to his feet and does a full turn of the room. There are tears forming in his eyes as he realises that he right now for the first time in almost forty years standing in his bathroom.

Elvis Presley is back.

August 14th, 2016
Graceland Mansion
Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116, USA – The Upstairs Bathroom.

It is freaky just how little has changed in the thirty-nine years since he last walked around this place. He, like everyone else in his inner circle, has heard rumours of his home being turned into some kind of tourist attraction but as he takes in the cluttered black vanity counter and marvels at the impressive mirror which hangs above it Elvis begins to think that maybe his worst fears are not going to come true and his home will not have been opened to the public. Feeling surer of himself he quickly walks over to the gold and black walk in shower and gawps at how similar it looked to that day all those years ago. It is whilst he is reminiscing about his last afternoon in this room and hunting for the book he was reading just before he entered the spirit world that he notices the bulbs beside the mirror begin to flash and letters forming on the surface of the mirror.

The Note.

‘God, damn it’ he whispers as he remembers Gods instructions to read and sign the rule sheet within fifteen minutes of landing on earth. Looking around the room he realises that there are only limited seating options. The reading chair which he used so many times is one of the few things to have been moved leaving only the toilet and the small chair in the shower as options. With a smile, he dismisses the toilet ‘not this time buddy’ before making his way over and plonking himself down on the shower seat. For the next two or three minutes, he reads his instructions over and over again.

‘Dear Mr Presley, congratulations on earning enough credits and being granted access to walk amongst the living again. As I am sure you are eager to test out your new abilities I will keep this brief. Firstly, please note that while you can touch things, lift things and interact with objects you are not back in body form. You will, in the traditional way, be able to pass through walls, locked doors and any object you like while at the same time having the ability to touch things like a regular human. There are of course risks that come with this. Any movement of an object will be able to be seen by a non-ghost, and should this raise suspicion or in any way alert people of your presence you will be returned at once to the kingdom of heaven. Please be careful, while we do have a dedicated team who work hard at fixing any problems that arise from detections I prefer to only use them in an emergency. Secondly, you will be able to reveal yourself to ONE PERSON during your visit back to earth. During this time only they will be able to see and hear you and you will be able to talk freely without anyone else noticing. However, the second this conversation is over you will return to me and have to start again in your quest for ghost status. To help you in your mission I have provided you with a free copy of the ‘Holy Information Bundle 2016’(HIB for short). You will find it in your left pyjama pocket and it can be used to ask my staff questions or to help fill in the gaps of what has happened on earth since you vacated. This machine can only be seen by you and is easy to use. Please sign this contract within the next four minutes so your trip can be made official.

The moment he stops reading Elvis feels a tingling sensation as a small black pen appears in his left hand. Without giving it a second thought he signs the paper and watches in amazement as both it and the pen disappear from his hands.

Feeling better than he had since the build up to his Aloha from Hawaii special Elvis feels like giggling. He had done it. Just like he told his momma and the guys he would, he had found a way to return home. As he looks at his reflection he does feel a moment's disappointment at the tired face which looks back at him. During the many, many nights that he dreamed of his return he had always pictured himself looking like he had during the summer of fifty-four. The quiff was at his best, his waistline never tighter and his overall appearance may never have been better, but that is not the image which is looking back at him right now. Instead, he looks just as tired and puffy in the face as he had on that dreadful afternoon in seventy-seven. On a normal day, this would be enough to start one of his dark mood swings. But not today. No today he is just so happy at being back home that he feels nothing more than a minor irritation over Gods mess up. ‘Ah to heck with it’ he says while taking out the HIB and pointing its silver ‘Image reading screen’ at his mirror. ‘Whatever anyone says I went out one handsome son of a bitch’ he declares before pressing the process button. Less than a second later the machine speaks to him and declares ‘this is a mirror, the image you see looking back at you is that of your old body and the one a human would see should you expose yourself. Let it be known that while you can see this the only way a breathing son of God can is if you choose to let them.’ As the machine shuts down Elvis can no longer hold it in and lets out a booming laugh. ‘You missed out the handsome part’ he says with a giggle to the HIB before slipping back into his pocket.

Done with the bathroom Elvis walks through the door and stands, looking around, in amazement at his old bedroom. Dropping to his knees the emotion of being back here in his sanctuary starts to get the better of him. It is all still here. The large King sized bed, the wardrobes, his personal belongings. Hell, even his Jesus statue and his jumping tiger figurine are still exactly where he left them. ‘God damn it is like they knew I would come back’ he says excitedly before walking over to his bookshelf and randomly flicking through his books.

Four Hours Later
August 14th, 2016
Graceland Mansion
Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116, USA – The Jungle Room.

‘That son of a bitch! I will kill him. I swear to God I will shoot that lousy bastard!’ It is fair to say that Elvis Presley is agitated. For the past few hours, he has walked the grounds of his home and marvelled at the changes his family have made in his absence. What a shock it had been for him to see the changes to his front room. Heck if the bedroom remaining the same was strange, seeing his living room changed back to its sixties design had made him gasp out loud and reach for the HIB. ‘The first room of the Graceland tour, your living room was changed back to its old design so as to be more appealing to tourists’ it had informed him. ‘To hell with tourist’s man! This is my home!’ had been his reaction before he stomped away and continued his exploring. It is all the changes and tweaks which have forced him to settle down in his beloved Den. This room at least is almost exactly how it left it, so it is in here that he decided to sit down and begin trying to fill in thirty-nine years’ worth of gaps with the HIB.

Oh, how he had marvelled at the loyalty and dedication of his fans. All these years later and they are still buying his records and keeping his name alive. It had almost moved him to tears to think about how all of his fears and insecurities about being forgotten when he was gone had been proved wrong. To think that just a year ago, he had once again ruled supreme and topped the album charts in England. He had let out a small chuckle at his wife’s words in the promotion for the album. ‘It was always Elvis dream to perform with an orchestra’ she had said. ‘Cilla baby, I performed with one every God damn night’ he couldn’t help but say. The constant rumours about him faking his own death and the sniping at his appearance in his later years had angered him. However, it was nothing compared to the news that his friends in the Memphis Mafia, including his own cousin Billy, had agreed to take part in a book that exposed so many of aspects of his private life. How could those guys do that to him? Billy especially had virtually lived with him during the last few month and seen the pain the book ‘Elvis What Happened’ had caused him. It was, in Elvis' eyes the ultimate act of betrayal for his cousin to have himself joined in with a hatchet job like this. ‘I am glad they cut you out of the will you no good son of a bitch’ he had shouted while angrily clicking off the page and typing in the name of his baby girl Lisa.

It was this search which has caused him to jump out of his chair and storm around the room. Reading backwards the news of Lisa’s many divorces had troubled him somewhat but hey who was he to judge. As long as she was happy now that was all that mattered. This attitude, however, could not be applied to the Michael Jackson marriage. For the next fifteen minutes, Elvis stormed around his Den swearing and cussing first about the marriage and then about the news that Michael Jackson's death had robbed him of the chance to shoot him. He was so caught up in his ranting that he failed to notice the front door of his mansion opening and twenty or so people walking into his hallway. It is only the sound of the tour guide speaking which pricks his interest and forces him to turn and look in amazement at the sight before his eyes.

For the next hour or so he does nothing but sit and watch as busloads of people walk through his door, stop to take pictures of his possessions, and walk around his palace. The tears that streamed down people’s faces as they walked in Graceland somehow filled him with pride, and the excitement and laughter on those same faces as they took in his Den couldn’t help but make him smile. ‘Over the top, those guys told me’ he muttered ‘well look at it now boys, it is people's favourite room in the house!’ Eventually, he pulls himself out of the chair and walks through the hordes of people before climbing back up his stairs and entering his bedroom. It had been nice to see all those folks coming to experience his home but just like he had when he was alive Elvis now wanted to be alone, hidden away from the crowds.

August 16th, 2016
Graceland Mansion
Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116, USA – The Racket Ball Court.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Just two days into his return to earth and Elvis is already sick of this life. During his grand plans, he imagined that he would be able to return to his throne and enjoy the feeling of being alone at Graceland with no one around to bother him. He had looked forward to just sitting in his downstairs TV room and catching up with the movies of the time, or reading in his Den and seeing how art had progressed. Hell, he was even keen to sample modern music and see how it compared to his own back catalogue. And while he could in theory still do all of these things it was hard to enjoy with hundreds of strangers passing by you all day. Even his meditation garden offered no solace. Over the years, he had spent hours in there just thinking and letting the world pass him by, yet now that his body and his mother and fathers are buried in there, how could he be expected to enjoy it anymore. What a strange sensation it had been to sit by the pool watching people crying over your grave and paying respects. In some cases, the emotions of the people had been so great that he was tempted to give it all up, to reveal himself and promise them that it will all be ok. Yet every time he had managed to talk himself out of it. In the end, the gardens, like most of the downstairs of his home had simply become out of bounds for him during the day.

It is ironic he knows that despite being dead for thirty-nine years he was, after just two days, right back into his old routine of hiding upstairs during the day and living at night. Only now he was doing it all alone. No family, no friend’s, no one around to talk to or play with. No, no matter how grand and stunning a home this once was, without the people he loved it was nothing more than bricks and mortar. Despite this, however, he had for some reason felt a pressing need to come and see his old piano. Sitting on its small brown seat, just as he had on his last night, he rests his fingers on the lid. He would love to play again, to sing his favourite songs just like he did in the good old days but the wandering people who are flooding his home wouldn’t be able to understand that. No, the moment he played a note he knows that his days on earth would be done. So, for fear of losing what he is not even sure he wants anymore he settles for running his hand across the smooth lid and singing acapella the words to Unchained Melody. There are twenty or so people in the small walkway this afternoon and not one of them is aware that out of their ears wavelength and just a few feet away Elvis Presley is once again singing in Graceland.

One of the people blissfully unaware of Elvis performance is Danny Alexandra. At half past eight, this morning his doctors had finally listened to his parent’s pleas and allowed him to leave the hospital. For the past two hours, they have excitedly walked around his heroes home. For Gerry and June, the sight of a smile on their son's face as he boarded the bus to Graceland had been worth the risk they had taken in pressuring the doctors to let him out. Indeed, his attitude all day had been nothing but positive and happy and as they stand now at the back of the room holding hands just watching their brave baby taking in the sight of the last instrument Elvis ever played they can’t help but smile at how happy he looks.

Danny is just about to move on and walk towards the next room when his legs suddenly feel week. Reaching out for the bannister he can feel himself suddenly hurtling forward. He is inches from the floor when it dawns on him that the stomach cramps he has been feeling for the past hour are now a sharp dagger-like pain in his gut. Yet before he has the chance to tell anyone about his pain, his head bounces down the three steps and he falls unconscious.

Elvis is just about done with the piano when the sounds of a woman screaming and people running around make him look up. The sight he sees pulls at his heart strings. A young pale looking boy in one of his T-shirts seems to have collapsed on his stairs and he does not appear to be moving. Walking over towards him Elvis is shocked to hear the boy's mum telling the staff members that they need an ambulance and explaining that her son, Danny, has an aggressive type of cancer. ‘He can’t die’ she screams. ‘He can’t die in his hero’s house, please help me!’

Over the past few hours, Elvis has considered who he would appear too when he decided to return to his life in the sky. At first, the option was easy, it would be his daughter Lisa, but how could he put her through that? He now realised that to appear to his baby in this form would only cause her upset, and because of the damn rules, he would not be able to stick around after and make sure she was ok. So, with Lisa out of the equation, he realised he had no one else worth giving up his ghost status for. Yet as he sits in the back of this ambulance listening to these parents crying and begging their son to wake up he makes up his mind, one way or another he is going to do what he can to help these folks out.

August 16th, 2016
Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis

At first, Danny thinks he is dreaming as he comes around in his hospital bed. He knows that he banged his head pretty hard in the Kings house but the image of Elvis sitting on the edge of his hospital bed in his blue pyjamas confirms to him that he has possibly got brain damage. ‘Great’ he thinks ‘just what I need’ and with that he starts to laugh a little. However, it doesn’t last long. The effort hurts his ribs and makes his entire body ache with pain. He can feel his mother’s hand gripping his and he is sure he can make out the sound of her sobbing and he is certain that somewhere in the room his father will be pacing around silently praying for him. Yet unlike all the other times that he awoke in one of these places he doesn’t feel worried or even upset, rather he is at peace with the entire situation. His mother’s hand gripping his and the memory of today is all he needs to face whatever he has coming. His attention can’t help but turn back to the large Elvis image which is now leaning in to get a closer look at him. ‘You didn’t half give us a shock back there son. I mean damn boy I have been listening to the doctors just what in the hell did you think you were doing coming to my house in your condition?’

This is so weird Danny thinks as he attempts to shut his eyes and go back to sleep. He is certain that when he wakes up the Elvis image will be gone but the second he closes his eyes he is startled back awake by a large pair of hands shaking his shoulders. ‘Oh, no you don’t!’ he hears Elvis say. ‘I didn’t give everything up just for you to go back to sleep. Come on son, I want some god damn answers!’

‘Is this a dream?’ Danny asks his head unable to process what is going on. ‘Or have I died and no one has noticed yet’ ‘Hey there will be none of that talk, do you understand me. You are not dead ok, and this ain’t no dream kid. The how and why I am here is irrelevant, just know that I am here and with you. Now why in the blue hell were you at Graceland?’

‘I am dying Elvis. My mum and Dad don’t want to say it out loud, but we all know. Everything the doctors try doesn’t work. I don’t know how long I have left, I don’t even know if my doctors do, but my Dad paid for us to come to Memphis to celebrate my treatment going well, I guess now that it failed this has turned into my goodbye tour.’

Stunned Elvis just sits on the bed for a few seconds holding the boy's hand. Slowly he raises his head and looks the boy in the eyes and asks ‘but why my house? Why would a young boy like you want to come to my house and look at all my stuff?’

‘Because you are The King silly. We all love you, it is so cool to walk around your hallways and know that you walked the same carpets or to see the jungle room and know that you recorded Moody Blue right there. Oh, man up until me falling over, today was the best day of my life.’

As his words wash over him Elvis can’t help but shake his head. Graceland, he now realises, is no longer his home and he no longer lives there, it is simply his last gift to his millions of fans. He is just about to tell Danny that he is glad he bumped into him today and thank him for opening his eyes when he hears a small pained moan leave the child’s lips. Suddenly the room is a hive of activity again as doctor’s rush in and out and the boy’s parents both begin to cry out loud. For want of anything else to do Elvis sits down again and grabs the boy's hand. ‘How you doing kid?’ he asks despite fearing he knows the answer. ‘Not too great Elvis. It hurts.’

‘You know what you need, you need something to take your mind off this situation, Danny. Why don’t you try just talking to me and see if I can make you feel a little better?’

‘Well, there is something I have been meaning to ask you’ Danny says his voice filled with pain. ‘Shoot kid’ ‘Elvis why are you wearing your pyjamas’ and with that said the two begin to laugh.

Half an hour later and Danny Alexandra is no longer capable of laughing. He is fighting for every breath he takes and the realisation that he is soon going to die has dawned on everyone in the room. ‘Elvis’ he whispers his first words for at least ten minutes. Wiping a tear from his eye and looking back up at this brave boy who he only met a few hours ago, Elvis tries to sound calm as he asks what is up. ‘Does it hurt…you know dying…does it hurt?’

‘Well Danny, it was a hell of a long time ago and I really can’t remember, but anyway son you don’t need to worry about that. You should focus on how loved you are son, look at your mama over there, man I wish mine had been with me at the end’

At the mention of his mum Danny turns his head and looks at her beautiful face. As she leans in and tells him that she loves him he returns the sentiment with a smile. ‘Can I tell you a secret mum’ he asks her. ‘Of course, you can my darling what is it?’ ‘It is all going to be ok mamma. Elvis is going to look after me’ with that said Danny once again slips away to unconsciousness. He drifts away so suddenly that he doesn’t even hear his mum reply that she never doubted that he would be there to look after him.

With no energy, left and struggling to breathe Danny squeezes Elvis and his mum's hand for the last time before letting out a small sigh. Around fifteen minutes ago, he had made Elvis promise to sing Don’t Cry Daddy to him one last time when the end came and as he looks down at his frail body Elvis instinctively knows that the time has come. Standing and walking around to the boy's ear he leans in and begins to sing ‘Today I stumbled from my bed’

At some point before the chorus, Danny Alexandra loses the fight and breathes his last breath.

August 16th, 2016
Cloud Number? – Gods Office.

Elvis does not care about his appearance when he realises that he is back in heaven. It would take just two seconds to turn back to one of his favoured looks but he is so angry that he doesn’t even try. Instead, he asks Peter to take Danny outside while he has a word with God.

The second the door is shut Elvis slams his hand down on the desk and shouts ‘Why man? Why did you do that to that poor boy? Why did you send me back to bring a poor innocent child up? And don’t you lie to me, I ain’t as daft as you all think, I know that the reason you fast tracked me was to do that and god damn it I want to know why!’

For a few seconds, God lets the silence linger before raising his hand and lighting up his office. ‘Elvis I would never lie to you, my child. I did send you back to pick up Danny and I am proud of you’

‘Proud of me? Don’t give me that man, I want to know why the hell you did that to the poor boy’

‘Yes Elvis, I am proud. I am proud of you for making Danny’s last few hours amongst the living a little brighter than they would otherwise have been and I am proud of you for giving up your beloved home to do it. Now you know the same as I do that I have little or no influence on the workings of the earth. I am here to help, to comfort and to provide the kingdom of Heaven to those who believe but the workings of the earth are not my remit. I will, however, admit that Danny and his case have pulled at my heart strings recently which is why I pulled a few strings and got you sent back. I told you a few days ago, Elvis that work in heaven is unique to each spirit. Well, your job if you ever allowed me to convince you to do it would be this. There are millions of people who love you and worship you and if you would just do as we asked you could help them all make the journey to heaven just as you have Danny’

Slumped in a chair Elvis is heartbroken at the words he is hearing. After the longest thirty seconds of silence, he has ever experienced, he lifts his head and asks ‘How many? How many kids could I have helped and let down man?’

‘With a smile, God shakes his head. ‘None Elvis, you see up until this point the chance to send you back has never been an option, I promise you, you have not let anyone down so far, in fact without any training you have already guided one child home’

At the sound of the door opening and Peter and Danny walking in both Elvis and God turn to face them. ‘Welcome Danny, it is a pleasure to meet you, my child. Peter, I believe you have an official offer for Mr Presley’

With a grumpy look on his face and without once making eye contact Peter says ‘Mr Presley I would like to offer you the permanent role of 'heavenly ghost'. Your role will be to help guide the lost home to the light and provide comfort to those who need it. As a reward, you will have all the rights and privileges of a normal ghost and you can split your free time between your home in heaven and your old home on earth. On each trip, you will be allowed to take one of your friends for company but they will play no part in any of our official work. I am going to go ahead and assume you accept this role and if you are ready I will begin the process of returning you to Graceland.’

Elvis is not really listening to Peter. Instead, he is looking at the upset and worried look on his new friend Danny’s face. ‘This job thing, do I have to start it now’ Elvis asks God, much to Peters annoyance. ‘No Mr Presley, you can start it whenever you like’ ‘very reasonable of you big guy, put me down to start next week, and I think my boy Danny here would be the person I take back with me first’

He then walks over and wraps his arm around Danny before leading him towards the door. ‘I don’t get you Presley’ Peter can’t help but say. ‘All these years you have moaned and argued to get back and now, you get offered the best deal we can give and you pass it up for a week’

With a wink at Danny Elvis doesn’t reply, instead, they walk out of the office and begin to make their way towards the Graceland cloud. ‘How come you didn’t go back?’ Danny asks. ‘Danny son, Graceland will still be there when I get back, but I have a feeling that you could do with a friend right now. Now come on little guy, let me show you around your new home…’

© Copyright 2018 Paul Phillips. All rights reserved.

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