Ace got a firsthand look at why Ivan had solicited the help of Pradeep, the taxi driver when they got back to Elvis Presley Boulevard. The entire street was blocked off in both directions from the edge of Graceland to the south all the way down past the KFC a quarter mile to the north. Police turned all approaching cars away. Ivan told Pradeep to pull into the parking lot of an Advance Auto Parts store a hundred feet north of the barricade. A small crowd gathered at the roadblock and grew with each passing moment.
"I snuck out just as they were erecting the barricades," Ivan said. "And I had to disengage Betty's sentry mode because she had already knocked out five Elvis impersonators who shambled up to her like zombies and tried to get inside. One of those impersonators was this guy's brother."
"He is the most popular Elvis impersonator of Indian descent in all of Memphis!" Pradeep boasted. "I was driving Raj to a gig on the other side of town. Everything was normal. Just like it was every other Sunday. Raj does an Elvis show for a group of ladies at Stable Willow Retirement Community. We talked about cricket and how we were both gaining weight since we moved to Memphis. When all a sudden Raj's whole demeanor changed."
"He was mid-sentence and then all of a sudden he started doing his act," Pradeep said. "One moment he was talking about how he needed to go to the tailor and get his pants let out and the next he broke into a rendition of Burning Love and started doing karate moves. I almost wrecked the car."
Pradeep continued, "He was, like, possessed, you know? He was talking like Elvis. And he wouldn't take no for an answer. He kept shouting over and over until I agreed to take him to the KFC."
Pradeep did his best Elvis impersonation. It was horrible. "You're a beautiful audience. Now, take me to KFC! Thank you. Thank you very much! He kept shouting it over and over..."
"When we got here the police had already blocked off the area around Graceland. There was some sort of commotion on the grounds. I was trying to take a look and get a better idea of what was going on, and before I knew what was happening, Raj jumped out and ran straight for your vimana! He is a good boy, Hanuman. Please spare his life."
"I told you, Pradeep, it just knocked him out. He'll be fine," Ivan said to Pradeep. Then to Ace, he said, "The Elvis impersonators started showing up about ten minutes after you left. "
As they sat in the Advance Auto Parts parking lot, Ace heard something stutter chopping the air overhead. He poked his head out of the cab and looked up. A police helicopter hovered directly over Graceland with a spotlight shining down on the area where Ivan's dazzler had exploded a few hours earlier. Too many people, cars, and trees blocked his view, but Ace could only assume it was not good.
"It's all open behind this building," Ivan said. "And some trees separate it from a neighborhood. And it's all dark back there. I'm going to sneak around back and then it's a straight shot to the KFC. I know what you're going to say, Ace. But I think you should stay here. I'll move faster without you. I got a bad feeling about this. I'm going to check on Betty." Ivan got out of the cab. "Pradeep. Listen to Ace. He's on our side."
"Yes, Hanuman!" Pradeep said.
Ace pulled Ivan close and whispered, "Why does he keep calling you that?"
Ivan whispered back, "He saw me come out of Betty. He could see clear into the ship, and he just assumed I was a Hindu monkey god, so I went with it."
"We're impersonating gods now?" Ace asked. "I'm pretty sure that's illegal."
"Desperate times, ole boy," Ivan said with a wink then took off running behind the Advance Auto Parts so fast that anyone who might've seen him would've thought it was their imagination.
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Ace Tucker Space TruckerScience Fiction
Ace Tucker thinks Earth can eat a turd sandwich... Ace Tucker is a man who was raised in outer space and taught how to be human by a Russian cyborg chimpanzee. He earns a living as a rock-and-roll roadie and cargo hauler for the greatest band in the...