He Touched Me

How much would you pay for a brush with fame? A cool souvenir? Like a scarf worn by the King himself?

I'm not sure you can put a price tag on being a permanent part of the show. Or maybe you can....

He Touched Me by Paul Greenberg

I got a call from a Lee O’Connor, a woman in Indianapolis, who had an Elvis Presley collection that she wanted to sell me. She said that she had all of his records, both 33s and 45s, most in mint condition, as well as original Elvis toys and memorabilia, concert gear and a scarf that she got from Elvis himself, at what ended up being his last live performance.

“He touched me,” she said. “Just like the song, and I touched him and it was the greatest moment of my life.”

I could hear the thrill in her voice and I recognized this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Lee went on to tell me that she was thirty years old when she saw Elvis perform on June 26, 1977, at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Which would make her sixty-six today. She sat in the front row and had kept souvenirs from the show, which included a ticket stub, program, and the scarf. I was thinking that those three items would make an excellent little lot of memorabilia, if I chose to go that route. My mind was telling me otherwise.

To keep the conversation going, I asked her why she was parting with all this stuff. She blamed the damned economy. She lived alone, never married, had no family to help out, and needed to pay a mortgage and taxes and all that crap, the same spiel I usually hear from people selling these days. Hey, we’re all struggling I told her. You gotta do what you gotta do to get by.

She went on to say that most of the stuff was purchased when the King was alive and prices were reasonable, pre-eBay. I didn’t want to burst her bubble by telling her that current prices were pretty flat, too. But we agreed that if everything looked as good as she said it did, we would surely come to an agreement.

I had the entire collection mentally appraised at around 15K, with a resale value of 25K or more, not to mention the intangibles. But I’d have to see it all for myself. What a customer thinks is mint condition may not be mint condition at all.

I gave myself plenty of time for the drive from Cleveland to Indianapolis, doing some picking at various antique shops, co-ops and flea markets along the way.

When I pulled up to her address, Miss O’Connor welcomed me at the door. She was still in decent shape for an old broad. Petite and firm, with an Ann Margaret hairdo. I had pictured her living in a tiny replica Graceland but her house ended up to be just, tiny. No gates or pillars or finely kept lawns, bushes, flowers or pool.

She either let the house go to shit in order to keep her collection up, or else the collection is shit as well. In which case, this trip is a bust.

I had nothing to worry about. Her collection was housed in beautiful glass cases, five foot high and deep. Immaculately displayed, the collectibles’ portion was much more impressive than she had described. There were magazines, newspapers, watches, original photos, glassware, key chains, clothing, statues, hound dogs, buttons, dolls, toy guitars and record players and just about anything Col. Tom Parker could slap Elvis’ puss on.

There was a collection of velvet Elvis paintings above the record collection, equally impressive, with bagged LP records and 45s with picture sleeves, all standing upright in custom shelving along the walls.

She left her piece de resistance for last. Professionally boxed were the ticket stub, program, and scarf. Without me asking, she opened the case and pulled out the scarf and held it at arm’s length. Pale yellow, smooth as silk. She delicately wrapped it around her arm like a boa constrictor.

“Breathtaking,” I said and quickly excused myself to go out to the car to grab my camera. I’d need to work fast.

At the car I opened my trunk and took out my 35mm Nokia and a 12-inch Hornet Machete, in its pouch, which I tucked inside my coat.

I looked around the quiet neighborhood and dashed back up the driveway and let myself in, camera swinging around my neck.

Lee was humming “Loving Arms“ and dusting the glass cases. I asked her if she would mind posing with the scarf, next to a case of her collectibles.

She was more than happy to accommodate me. I had her extend her arm out again and let the scarf hang.

“So that’s the hand that touched Elvis?” I asked.

“Yes, sir, and it’s a day I will never forget.” She looked towards her hand lovingly, like it was not a part of her own body.

At that point, I took out my machete and hacked off her arm at the elbow. I then angled, pivoted, turned, and sliced her head off with one backhand swipe. She didn’t even have time to scream. Lee’s head and body hit the ground with a soft thud on the shag carpet, as I pulled two giant zip lock bags from my pocket. Blood spilled everywhere and I had to move quickly not to get any on me. I laughed. It was like a fucking Tarantino film.

Placing the bloody stub of an arm and scarf in separate bags, I looked down at Lee, bled out and dead, took a couple of pictures and made my exit.

I called the client from the road. “Yeah, I’ll have it to you by Monday of next week … driving from Indy now. I’ll give you a call as soon as I’m in town. Give me time to clean it up, will you?No, you’re the only one I’ve talked to. $250K, firm. Scarf, arm and photos included, of course. This is a hand that touched Elvis, my friend, and you can own it. Enjoy. Bye, bye.”

I didn’t want to over sell it.

Every industry has a dark underbelly. The antiques and collectibles’ business is no different. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to get by these days.

Paul is happy to be back to work and is trying to get back to his post coma weight after last year's "event." He enjoys his dog, children, and wife in that order.