I’m not superstitious, nor do I usually believe in ghosties and goblins and things that go bump in the night. However, sometimes things take a frightful turn. Several years ago I drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
As I approached Sin City outskirts, it was just about midnight. Running low on gas, I didn’t want my car to stall on the busy Strip or downtown Vegas. I pulled off the road at a small gas station, and went to the self-service area.
Mine seemed to be the only car there, until a big convertible pulled up on the other side of pumps. It was a pink 1950s Cadillac, and gleamed showroom new. As the driver got out, I could see by the dim light that he was wearing some kind of costume with sequins on it.
Then there was his face! I couldn’t miss the big hair, sideburns and famous sneer. It was Elvis, and because the time was just the stroke of midnight, I knew I was seeing a ghost. He was humming something as he filled his tank, and didn’t seem to notice I was there.
I dashed over to the station office to tell the attendant. We both ran out to the pump, but by the time we got there, Elvis was gone, along with his glitter and convertible. The attendant gave me a disgusted look, took my money and went back inside.
Feeling like a jerk, I drove back onto the road. Just about ten miles later, where I could already see the bright lights of Vegas in the distance, I noticed there was a car on the side in the dark ahead of me. It was another 1950s Cadillac convertible, this one a bright shiny blue. The driver was outside, leaning down, shining a flashlight on a back tire.
I pulled over and asked if I could help. He straightened up, and I almost fell out of my car. It was Elvis again, and I couldn’t mistake the face, hair and sequins reflecting from his flashlight. When I could talk, I asked, “Can I help?” He smiled and said, “Thought a tire had gone flat, but it looks O.K. Thank you, thank you very much!”
Of course, it was the ghost again. The last sentence he spoke was the famous sign-off for every Elvis Vegas performance. Then, with a wave and a smile, he got into his car, and was back on the road toward the bright lights. I knew his ghost would forever haunt the city he made famous.
That did it! I would believe in ghosts, at least friendly ones who thanked me very much. When I got to the Vegas hotel parking garage, I just had to tell someone about my two encounters with the ghost of Elvis.
As the attendant was about to take my car, I blurted out the story. He listened politely, sighed and then pointed to a poster on the wall behind him. The big title brought me suddenly back to reality, and it still haunts me to this day:
LAS VEGAS WELCOMES ALL ELVIS IMPERSONATORS TO THEIR ANNUAL CONVENTION!