Excerpt from “Blue Velvis,” a short story

September 14, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Posted in Writing: Stories | Leave a comment
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“Blue Velvis”

(Published in The Sun and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.)

The charming and handsome serial killer Ted Bundy was executed on my birthday.  Something about this fact brings birth and death full circle for me.  I remind myself of this today, my birthday, as I am making dinner for my boyfriend, Lenny.

My mother brought me up to believe that you are supposed to give gifts on your birthday, not just receive them. She has always been a great believer in reciprocity. This dinner is my gift to Lenny, who took care of me in the weeks after I had my hysterectomy. My mother would be proud.

Lenny was not as good as my mother would have been at taking care of me, but he tried. Sometimes he didn’t think about the little things you cannot do for yourself when you are ill. He did the big things, though, like feed me, feed my cats, cut wood for the winter, and fix things around my house. Lenny is always fixing things around my house.

One day I said, “Lenny, there’s a crack in my bedroom wall.”

This was after I had been in bed for about a week. The crack in the wall was driving me crazy.“Where?” he said.“Right there,” I said.I live in a hundred-year-old farmhouse, which might sound homey and quaint, but it’s not. My house has no style or grace, and it has a lot of problems. Lenny keeps saying the house will grow on me. I don’t know about that.Lenny examined the crack in my wall and said, “I’ll fix it tomorrow.”The next day he came over with a big velvet Elvis painting and hung it over the crack.“I don’t want that ugly thing,” I told him.

“Sure you do,” he said.

“I want the wall fixed,” I said.

 “It is fixed,” Lenny said.

 “That velvet Elvis isn’t fixing anything,” I said.

“Elvis would be hurt if he heard you talk that way,” Lenny said. “I paid three whole dollars for this.”

And then, due to some mix-up between my brain and my mouth, I called the painting a “Velvis.” I said, “That Velvis has got to go.”

The Velvis became part of our standard repertoire of jokes.

I said, “That’s not even Elvis. That’s Elvis’s cousin, Velvis.”

“Yeah,” Lenny said. “It don’t even look like Elvis.”

And I said, “Yeah, and those people in Las Vegas, they’re not Elvis impersonators; they’re Velvis impersonators.”

I happened to have on a blue nightgown, and Lenny sang, “She wore bluuuue Velvis.”

A day or two later, I said, “Velvis. It sounds like a woman’s body part.”

“Don’t let them take your Velvis,” Lenny said.

 “Why not?” I said. “They took everything else.”

We made so many jokes about the Velvis painting that I started to like it. It is still hanging over the crack in the wall.  …



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