Kathy had already gone through our album collection, writing initials on the ones she insisted she bought—the dishes and glasses had been easier to divvy up, most had already been shattered against the kitchen wall—before she called and said to come over and pick up the rest of my shit.
After I worked up the courage with a couple of shots at Flo’s—just in case she still had some fight left in her—I headed over to what used to be our house just down the street. She must have been furious. The two plastic pink flamingos, the ones we bought at a garage sale two years ago were lying in the muddy front yard belly up. My shit, as she referred to it on the phone was on the front porch—the part of the porch that was not covered—which after the last thunderstorm, a soggy reminder of what we once had.
She wasn’t even home for one last fight. Her kid sister got the honor of handing over the rest of my stuff and then, reminding me to hand over the key. Either her sister feigned ignorance or finally got back at me for the time Kathy and I locked her in the bedroom so we could do it on the couch, she knew nothing of the Elvis on black velvet.
“I know it’s still here,” I said moving past her.
Kathy and I bought it three years ago on our way back from Galena where we had gone antiquing. Some guy was selling them in the parking lot of this abandoned Sonic Drive-in. It wasn’t just any Elvis black velvet painting. This was his “Love Me Tender” days when Elvis was, well Elvis and not the overweight buffoon and rock and roll caricature he would become in the late 60s and 70s. She was just as much an Elvis fan as I was and we both fell in love with it at the same time.
“I think you should wait until she gets home,” her sister said. “If she finds out you were rummaging around the house, she’ll be angry.”
The painting used to hang on the wall in the living room, above the sofa, but it had been replaced with a print of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. I was almost tempted to take that one, too.
There was only one place it could be.
“You can’t go in there.” Her sister moved toward the bedroom door but I moved faster. She stepped out of the way; maybe she thought I would lock her in the bedroom again.
There it was, on the bedroom wall above the bed. There was no way I was going to let this Elvis watch over her while she looked up at him when another man banged her. I pulled it off the wall leaving a faint outline where it once had been.
“What’s mine is mine.” I said and walked out with Elvis under my arm. And then, I curled my upper lip and in my best Elvis impersonation, “the King is gone but not forgotten.”