Rex mortuus est…

15 Jan




Max looked out of his office window and down into the courtyard where a small but eager crowd was starting to gather. Just as he’d promised his students it was a brilliant, sunny day – a perfect day for graduation. Good old Nevada, she’d never failed him. There were so many advantages to living in the desert, but surely the cascade of continuous sunshine was the ultimate. There was something about blue cloudless skies and UV-rays beating down on one’s skin that induced a zest for life. Theirs was a state populated by positive can-do attitudes.

There was no such thing as a Nevadan as they’d been eradicated by the fledgling U.S. government of the previous century and everybody there was from somewhere else. Runaways and escapees; bad weather jail-breakers, who could no longer endure the perpetual cold and ice-scraping numbness – the quotidian excavation of snow-covered front porches. Nevadans were all born-again humans. Thankful for their release and blessed with a second start they were not unlike the thousands who flocked to worship plaster saints on Sundays and holy days. Rather than saving their devotions for the weekend, sun worshippers went down on their knees every day to be anointed with copious amounts of vitamin D. Not for them the devotional buffet of dry crackers and cheap red wine but a smorgasbord of glorious rays that transformed their grey lives into terrestrial paradises – a solar miracle. What did the Christians think that disc was behind the head of their Christ in all those Icons, a halo? Max smiled, he thought not.

They’d started the course with a class of forty two and were graduating a class of twenty one. The usual attrition one would expect from such a high seat of learning. There was nothing wrong in reaching for the stars, PER ADUA AD ASTRA after all, but one had to realize one had to learn to flap ones wings first before performing aerial acrobatics. A Greek tragedy of epic proportion, the only consolation being  the none refunability of the student’s fees.

A proud moment all the same and he never failed to recognize the gravitas of the occasion. Hadn’t he himself dared to be different, hadn’t he stood where the recently qualified would shortly be decorated with faux parchment degrees? He looked at his own coffee stained accolade hanging behind cracked glass above his desk. Class of ’87. The student had become the teacher, left the monastery and returned to cast pebbles for future candidates. His journey had been long and arduous and yet he’d attained the dizzying heights of his profession, performed for kings and queens, demonstrated his art for the rich and famous, connected with the well-connected, a legend in his own lifetime. His success had bought him fame and fortune and after accumulating moderate wealth and a couple of ex-wives on the way, he wanted to give back, share the secrets of his success with those willing to pay the college fees plus administration costs. It was necessary to fill the void, after all what would the world be if there was no one to take over the roles in society left by expiring peers? No, like surf hitting a beach, there had to be continuity. Time marched on but the legend had to survive. When the first wave left the landing craft to be mown down by unappreciative audiences there had to be  reinforcements to fill the gap -men to carry the standard, to tell the stories, to spread the word.

Happy day indeed!

Opening up his closet he reached for his ceremonial garb, the clothing that would distinguish him as faculty, as one of the teachers who’d groomed and honed those proud individuals who even now milled around amongst the crowd below. Obvious in their graduation costumes he could see them chatting excitedly to friend s and relatives, striking poses for cameras and even singing for the gathered crowds who, judging by the applause, were lapping it up.The silver gown, black leather boots and dark sunglasses set him aside from the others. He was the spitting image, or at least had been, until FatherTime had taken his requisite fee. Now, although still jet-black, his thinning hair reflected the later years rather than the younger. Dressed to impress, and with a final groin thrust to the mirror, he adjusted his jacket, ran his fingers through his hair and made for the podium. It was stage time, the green light was blinking and although self-reflection was not out of place on such a momentous occasion, it was time to congratulate his students. They’d paid the price both physically and financially and with their generous proceeds Max had managed to furnish himself a beautiful up-town home. Thanks where thanks were due. It was time to recognize fellow artists – men whom he was proud to call colleagues and fellow alumni.


Max stood on the podium, the audience before him. Tapping the microphone to insure he could be heard above Las Vegas rush-hour traffic, he launched into his practiced speech.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he screamed, “welcome to our fifth graduation ceremony here at the Elvis Aron Presley College for Professional Impersonators.”

The crowd went wild. Somebody hit play on the boom box and the Legend joined the invited.

“I said one for the money, two for the show,” warbled The King over cracked speakers.

Behind him the graduates all dressed in jump suits and star spangled cloaks broke into their carefully rehearsed routine. Every one, although not exactly personifying the great man, resembled the King in their own unique fashion. Max couldn’t help but smile his bleached, capped teeth dazzled as he grinned broadly at his successful students. The latest and greatest Elvis impersonators had entered the building of performance art. His legend and the King’s would live forever.

Waiting for the song to finish and the hub-bub to die down, Max took the microphone and looked at his graduates with sincerity and watery eyes.

“Thank you. Thank you very much and I do mean that most sincerely.” Despite his Moroccan heritage Max was ever the southern Gentleman.


3 Responses to “Rex mortuus est…”

  1. Steve Green January 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    The King is dead, long live the King!

    Great writing as always Colin, there was I being carried along in the belief he was professor of history or such, the point could be argued that his trade is a worthier cause. 🙂

    • Colin James I-10 Blog January 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

      Thanks for checking in Steve. Happy new year to you and yours.

      • Steve Green January 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

        Happy New Year to you and Robyn Colin, I hope it turns out to be a really good one for you.

        It’s good to see you on the scene again.

        Take care mate, and have a beer for me. 🙂

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