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The good part about having gotten no sleep the night before flying across the whole country is that I slept on the plane. And I mean from the moment we sat down and the engines started to hum while we were still at the gate, I conked out against the bulkhead. Someone woke me up and urged me to take a sip of ginger ale sometime later, but I pretty much just drowsed right back down again. I finally woke up completely when I had to pee, when the captain was making his announcement about how we’d be landing soon. So I had to hurry a bit.
Did I mention? We flew first class. But I really didn’t notice a difference since I slept through the whole thing.
I didn’t have to be concerned about how we were getting anywhere, so I wasn’t. We were picked up in a van and driven to the hotel. I saw Louis in the lobby, talking to a couple of other guys. Carynne introduced me to our head of stage tech, Barnaby Pluger.
“Everyone calls me B.B., though,” he said as we shook hands. He was a large man, with large hands. He introduced me to a couple of other guys whose names I had forgotten by the time we got upstairs.
We had a suite with two bedrooms attached to it, and then a few other rooms on the hall, some of which would attach if we unlocked the doors.
I didn’t bother just then. Carynne tipped the two bellmen who had brought up our stuff. I had one guitar with me, the Ovation, and the one suitcase. Everything else had been shipped. The suitcase rolled and I felt like I should have just carried the stuff myself, but I had to get used to someone else taking care of things. Right?
I had a room to myself. We each did.
A light was blinking on the phone. In tiny letters it read, “Messages.” I picked up the phone and pressed the blinking light, which turned out to be a button.
“Front desk. Hello, Mr. Moondog,” the female clerk said without irony.
“Is there a message for me?”
“A package, actually. Would you like to come get it or shall I have a bellman bring it up?”
“Is it large?” I was trying to remember if I’d sent something. Had I ordered a part I didn’t remember? Maybe it was for the tech crew and they put my name on it?
“Not very,” she said. “I’ll just have the bell captain run it up to you right now, how’s that?”
“Um, sure. Thanks.” As I hung up it occurred to me I didn’t know if we had to leave again right away or what, hopefully not.
A knock came on the door a few minutes later. The bellman handed me a small box and I handed him a dollar, which seemed like the thing to do. Bart was in the hallway and he came in when the guy left.
“What did you get?”
“I don’t know,” I said. The return address was somewhere in California. I took the pocket knife out of the Ovation’s case and cut open the tape.
Inside the box was a statuette of Elvis in a white rhinestone jumpsuit playing a black guitar. Actually, he was a Christmas ornament, judging by the loop of string that came out of the top of his head. Upon closer inspection it turned out he was not only a guitar-playing Elvis-in-a-white-rhinestone-jumpsuit Christmas ornament, but also a cat. He had three little whiskers painted on each cheek, and two pointy ears.
Bart started to crack up. “Who sent that? That’s hilarious.”
I found a letter in the bottom of the box. Apparently this was a good luck charm from Remo.
Just a little token to watch over you
on the road. A little patron saint, if
you will. Long live the King.
“You have to hang him up somewhere,” Bart said.
He looked like maybe he was supposed to hang from a rear view mirror, except with the way this tour was chunked up, we weren’t always going to be in the same bus. “Like where?”
“Like, here.” He took Christmas Cat Elvis and looped the edge of the string over the corner of the mirror. “Now the room seems more like home.”
He meant it sarcastically and I laughed. “Yeah, if your home is ruled by the God of kitsch.”
“If you don’t want him, I’ll take him,” Bart said. “What do you think, Elvis? Do you like it here or you want to hang from the mirror in my room instead?”
“I’ll keep him,” I said. “Michelle will never let you hang up something like that anyway.”
“You’re probably right.”
So that’s how I ended up with Christmas Cat Elvis hanging from my volume knob every night, too. Because I didn’t feel right leaving him at the hotel alone. Long live the King.