We had just graduated from Navy “A” School near Memphis. It was time to celebrate. Being we were all under 21, we chose Southaven, Mississippi where the drinking age was 18. There were six of us—three Marines, one Coast Guardsman, and two sailors. The sign read, “Ice Cold Beer and Music!” The place was jumping to a local band pumping out covers. All was cool until the dude with an albino snake wrapped around his neck waltzed in. This freaked-out one of the Marines. Words were exchanged and everything got quiet. That’s when the lighting flicked off and on.
“You all behave now!” It came from behind the bar. It sounded more like a ringside bell than a warning. Chairs began to fly, tables turned on their sides and pool sticks cut through the stagnant air with reckless abandon. Anybody who had a grievance with somebody was fair game. In front of the band, two women wrestled on the floor, tugging hair, bearing claws.
Once more, the lights flicked off and on.
“Law’s on the way. Anybody who shouldn’t be here might be considering viable options.”
We were the first to take his advice. Near U.S. 51, two cop cars passed us going in the opposite direction with lights and sirens. Fifteen minutes later those same cop cars had us cornered in a gas station parking lot.
“You all just leave that club up the road?”
“No sir,” I said. One of the cops was checking out the Marine’s ripped shirt.
They drove us several miles until we saw the sign, “Welcome to Tennessee.”
“How far is Memphis?” asked the Coast Guardsman.
“Don’t matter. Start walking.”
We walked about five miles before taking a break across from a mansion with four huge columns. At the entrance were gates with music cleft notes on the front. We sat waiting for a taxi, or dawn—whatever appeared on the horizon first.
A couple of hours later, we heard the gates energize and creep open. Out popped a beefy-looking guy with red hair on a golf cart wheeling towards us. When he reached us, he thrust two boxes our way. Gibson’s Donuts was written on the top box.
“How you boys doin’?”
“Better now,” I said.
He pointed to a second-floor window at the mansion.
“Courtesy of Elvis.”
I looked in the direction of the mansion. The silhouette of a lone figure stood between the open curtains gazing at us. I gave him a thumbs up and saluted. He nodded his head coolly and returned the salute. He had a donut in his hand.
We tore into the contents of the top box. To this day, it’s the best chocolate-covered donut with color sprinkles I’ve ever eaten.
Breakfast with the King.
Stuart Baker Hawk is a resident of Portugal via Washington state with an MFA in creative writing from Mississippi University for Women. He has worked as a pizza cook, punch press operator, instrument technician, union leader, construction electrician, OSHA administrator, adjunct professor and risk manager. He has also climbed some of this country’s most difficult mountains, worked briefly as a white-water rafting guide in Tennessee, and rappelled from the cliffs of Red River Gorge in Kentucky. In short, he has lived a life well and good. He has been published in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, new media and photography.