Not long after a woefully-attended show in a Tunica casino, aging semi-professional Elvis impersonator Lesley Pervis found himself approached by a young woman in a power suit and heels, with steely eyes and a steely briefcase.

The name’s Deabrua Paholainen, and I specialize in spatio-temporal relocation. What would you say to a world where YOU were Elvis?”

“That would never work,” said Lesley. “If I were him, I wouldn’t be me. No sale.”

“You misunderstand me, Mr. Pervis,” said Ms. Paholainen. “I’m talking about an alternate universe where Elvis’s twin Jesse survived his birth pangs. There, Elvis had to compete for his mother’s affection in an even poorer family, and therefore never became a singer. He dies in obscurity, ironically enough at the ripe old age of 91.”

“I don’t follow,” said Lesley, wary but weary.

“Don’t you see? You were born in 1935 too, just a few months later. You know all of the songs, all of the moves, all of the tics. Why, if you were returned to 1954, you could walk into that same recording studio and have it all. And you’d still be yourself.”

Lesley was trembling. “Are…are you sure?” he whispered.

“Honest injun, Mr. Pervis,” said Ms. Paholainen. “And no one would have to know but us.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Some people painted their cars with crude woodland camouflage. Rick painted his with authentic World War I pattern Royal Navy dazzle camouflage.

Yes, Rick was a bit of a WWI nut, dating from the day that he’d found his great-grandfather’s collection of war medals, including a German insignia said to have been taken from a dead man. World War II got all the press and all the movies since it was all black and white without shades of grey, but Rick reveled in the moral ambiguity of the older conflict and researched it compulsively in his spare time between menial jobs.

After all, going to reenactments usually meant a cross-Atlantic plane ticket at best.

Sure, people pointed and laughed and whispered a little. But was Rick any more eccentric than the Elvis impersonator who worked at Costco, or the body piercing and suspension fanatic who waited tables at Stuckey’s?

At least, that’s what Rick thought until he woke up one morning to the sound of air raid sirens and Zeppelin motors overhead.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

“We’ve got an hour and we need someone who can sing,” Tyrone said. “The band’s there, it’s ready, and we’ll pay you what we were gonna pay Hedge. But it’s gotta be something other than Elvis.”

Tatum sat down heavily, pompadour and sequins glistening under the harsh lights. “I don’t know if I can do it.”

“Our makeup guy can…undo this whole Elvis thing you’ve got going,” Tyrone said as if he thought that could help.

That awful night onstage thirty years ago was vivid before Tatum’s eyes. “I said I don’t know if I can do it!” he cried. Elvis had been safe, a warm blanket that he could rely on to deflect criticism and those horrible rowdy boos. To do anything else…

“Look, I need an answer right now,” said Tyrone. “I wouldn’t even ask somebody like you if it wasn’t an emergency. Now either man up and sing something that this crowd will like or slink on back to your bachelor party and bar mitzvah scene.”