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Gina Marie Russell as Pamela, Sascha Streckel as Kelly, Daniel Christensen as Elvis. Photo by Ian Johnston.

That Doesn't Sound Right At All

produced at the 14/48 festival, 1/5/08. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Reason to Believe." My random actor draw: write a play for two women and one man.

A phone is ringing as the lights come up on a small apartment. The set: a card table, with three chairs. Two sisters sit on opposite sides of the table, each with a bottle of beer: PAMELA, the older sister, and KELLY, the younger sister. Not particularly well-off, but they're getting by. Kelly is doing her college homework; Pamela is knitting, or doing a crossword. The phone turns out to be a cordless sitting next to Pamela, who answers it.

PAMELA: Hello?... Who?... Really?... Seriously?... I guess so. I mean, I don't see why not...OK, see you soon. She hangs up, resumes her business.

KELLY: Who was that?

PAMELA a little nonchalant: Elvis Presley. Apparently he's alive, and he's coming over to say hi.

KELLY: Really?

PAMELA: Apparently.

KELLY after a pause: I thought he was dead.

PAMELA: You know, so did I, but apparently not.

They go back to their business. Something nags at Kelly, though.

KELLY: Does he know you?

PAMELA shrugs: He called me "sweetheart." Clarifies: I mean, I never met him, let's be clear.

KELLY: Why is he coming here?

PAMELA: I didn't really ask him.

KELLY: Isn't that kind of weird?

PAMELA: I guess so.

KELLY: I mean, it's probably not him, right? Because he's dead... right?

PAMELA: People say he might still be alive.

KELLY: But if he was, why would he come here?

PAMELA growing irritated: I don't know. You can ask him when he gets here. Finish your homework.

They go back to their business again. Moments later, there is a knock at the door. Kelly goes to the door and opens it. ELVIS PRESLEY enters. He is wearing a shirt & tie, no jacket; he's holding a slip of paper that has two phone numbers on it. He doesn't resemble Elvis at all. When he speaks, he doesn't sound like Elvis. He is just a normal-looking man, seeming a little nervous; however, as the play progresses and he becomes more nervous, little Elvis mannerisms might slip out. Kelly sizes him up as he stands in the doorway.

ELVIS: Hi. Pause. I just called. Can I come in? I don't have a lot of time.

KELLY dubious: You're Elvis Presley?

ELVIS: Yeah, I know, it's a long story, please-

PAMELA: Just let him in.

Elvis enters the room, makes his way toward the card table. He seems genuinely moved by the sight of Pamela.

ELVIS: Hi.

PAMELA: Hi.

ELVIS: I, uh... wow, you look great. You look... very different than I remember, but you look great. Turning to Kelly: And you, you're all grown up. You're perfect. I can't, uh... believe... Back to Pamela: Right, so, um... wow, I didn't expect to be this nervous. You can sing in front of 50,000 people but the first time you see your wife in thirty years... Ex-wife, sorry... I just, uh, I wanted to let you know how really, truly sorry I am for everything that happened. I really... I just took a few too many... I just lost track of everything that meant anything to me, and now... Quietly: I miss you, sweetheart, I really do.

PAMELA: Just so we're clear... who do you think I am exactly?

ELVIS hesitates: Pr... Priscilla?

PAMELA shakes her head: Pamela.

ELVIS stunned: What! That can't be right... They said they found "P. Presley" in the phone book and they assured me it was...

PAMELA: It's Pamela Presley.

ELVIS turning to Kelly: And that's not-

PAMELA: That's definitely not Lisa Marie.

ELVIS outraged: Those mother fucking FUCKS, they can't get ONE FUCKING THING right, god DAMN it all to FUCK!

KELLY: Who are you really? Aside from, generally speaking, a crazy person?

ELVIS: I'm Elvis fucking Presley!

KELLY: You're supposed to be dead.

ELVIS: I am dead, except for, except for fifteen FUCKING minutes, half of which I spent circling the block because I couldn't see the number on your apartment building from the street and god DAMN those fucking FUCKS!

KELLY: Look, you need to get out of here before I call the police.

ELVIS recognizes her: Wait. I know you. You're that little girl that used to scratch her mother's record albums. My record albums. Just mine. Your mother loved listening to my records, she played them all the time, and eventually you scratched every single one. I was dead, but I was watching you do it.

KELLY surprised: Yeah, actually, that was me. Pause. Okay. You're Elvis Presley. Pause. I don't like your music.

ELVIS: No fucking shit. He checks his watch. I've got like five minutes. Fuck. He sits down at the card table, notices the beer. Do you have another one of those?

PAMELA: No.

ELVIS: Yeah, you're probably right.

KELLY joining them: What are you doing here?

ELVIS: Ah, look, I won fifteen minutes back on the planet in this poker game, it's a long story.

KELLY: Where were you?

ELVIS: I'm not supposed to talk about it.

KELLY: The afterlife?

ELVIS: I'm not-

KELLY: Is that where you were?

PAMELA: Kelly, you're being rude.

KELLY: Well, he's here, he may as well dish some dirt. No one's gonna believe us if we say Elvis came to our apartment and told us all about the afterlife. To Elvis: Dude, it sounds like they fucked your trip up anyway, so who cares if you talk about it?

ELVIS: No, it's true, you're right. Those assholes can just fucking deal. What do you want to know?

A long pause. Both Pamela and Kelly are very focused on him. Their questions are delicate, as if they don't want to know too much.

PAMELA: What's dying like?

ELVIS: I was really fucking high when it happened, so the details are fuzzy. But I remember being really scared all of a sudden. My chest just kind of exploded with pain. And then there was this really brief moment where I was hovering over my dead body, and then WHAMMO... It just hurt, mostly.

PAMELA: And after that?

ELVIS: The next thing I know, I'm standing next to Jimi Hendrix. And he looks at me, and he just says, "Fucking chump," and then he walks off. Pause. They keep all the musicians together.

KELLY: It's different for other people?

ELVIS: John Lennon showed up right after I got there, and boy was he pissed. He was all like, "Give peace a chance and I get fucking shot?"

KELLY: So do they just keep famous musicians together? Or... Pause. My mom...

PAMELA anxious: Kelly-

KELLY: She played the piano. Pause. You know what she looks like. Have you seen her?

ELVIS carefully: No, but that doesn't mean... what happened to her?

PAMELA after a long silence: She died in a fire. Both of our parents died in a very big fire. On a compound in Waco, Texas. Actually, dad died of a gunshot to the head, but mom definitely just burned up. Pause. Kelly and I got out, obviously. A couple years earlier. I snuck her out before she was old enough to get married off. Just barely, actually. It's funny I remember when the family joined the church and mom had to get rid of all her records, and she just couldn't bear to get rid of yours. So when dad wasn't paying attention, she shipped them to grandma. Who eventually gave them to me. They're in my bedroom closet. Pause. But apparently they're all scratched.

KELLY softly: So what happens to fucked up Branch Davidians when they die?

ELVIS almost tells her, then reconsiders: You know what? It's not going to happen to you. He stands up abruptly, throws the slip of paper down on the table. I got to split, kids. The meter's still running. He starts toward the door.

PAMELA examining the slip: Wait a minute. There are two phone numbers here.

ELVIS: Yeah, they gave me your home number and your cell number.

PAMELA: I don't have a cell phone.

A long pause; then Elvis drifts back to the table. Pamela hands him the cordless phone and the slip of paper. He dials, waits. Then:

ELVIS truly taken aback: Priscilla? Is that you?... Hi, sweetheart, it's me. Pause. It's Elvis.

Lights fade.



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