Friday, 18 June 2010

Down the end of lonely street....

I was seventeen and had just started work for Charlotte City Trucks as a driver when I first heard Heartbreak Hotel. As it came over the radio, I was instantly mesmerised by its haunting lyrics and sombre tones and had to pull my truck over to the side of the road to listen to it properly. I was hooked.

I later found out, that the song had been inspired by a suicide note, which simply read:

'I walk a lonely street'

But it was the line in the song 'Do cry away their gloom' that sent a shiver down my spine the most,  and to this day, twenty years later, it still does the same to me.  I have an image in my mind of a lone man sitting on the hotel bed, head held in his hands and his shoulders riding up to his ears. The weeping is a quite an affair. One which is given through a throat that has long had its mouth quenched and is barely fuelled by the blood pumping from the heart. There is no energy, or want to move from that position.It's a solemn moment captured in a lonely time.  All that is missing from the scene is a gun on the sideboard, a sure sign of its impending end.

I guess it has always curios-ed me as I have been rather fortunate in life. Three weeks after starting at the Charlotte City Trucks company, the foremen had a freak accident and as I had my high school diploma, I was put in the office in his place. Three years later, the owner of the company wanted to spend more time with his family. So I took over the day to day running of the firm and in ten years went on to becoming a partner. The fleet in this time expanded from six trucks to twenty six and when the owner retired, I was able to buy out his share and I turned it into one of the largest trucking firms in North Carolina. I also met my wife Julianna and we had two beautiful daughters: Bessie who is sixteen years old and Anna-Marie who is twelve.

As I neared my forties, I became a respected citizen of Charlotte city standing for mayor and though I did not win, I won the respect of my peers and a whole new world  of opportunity was opened up to me.

You could say I was living the American Dream, but one thing always niggled in the back of my mind. That line "Do cry away their gloom". On August 16th 1977 Elvis Presley died and the string of Presley hits filled the airways in tribute.  On my way home that day, driving my Lincoln continental, sure enough Heartbreak hotel came on and I pulled over, feeling the same mesmerising haunting that I heard, the first time I heard it all those years ago.

The very next morning I went into work and sacked our entire accounts department. I then pulled in a favour from the Senator of NC and pulled a major contract which would double our workload. In the afternoon, I went down to our main depot and laid off a third of the truckers and spent the rest of the day at the car dealership where I purchased several Cadillacs with petty cash. I didn't go home that night, instead taking a ride to one of our regional depots where we based some of the drivers, who we wanted out of sight - the kind that not even the post office would employ,  and I purchased a cocktail of drugs.

The next morning, I slipped a small amount of LSD into my daughter Bessie's morning milk and crushed up a small amount of cocaine for my other daughter into the juice bottle she took to school. Over the coming weeks I would slowly increase these dosages. For my wife, I played around with a mix of barbiturates and cocaine depending on how I was feeling.

I continued to spend the petty cash of my company on whims, such as a yacht which I have no idea to where it actually is, a dune buggy which I left at the side of the road , plane tickets for destinations such as Rome which I never used - I was disappointed that it took the IRS so long to cotton on.

The teamsters on the other hand, were straight in on the case with the increased workload and longer hours,the strikes started pretty much straight away. Good old teamsters , though you should have seen the look on their representative's face, when he came into my office and suggested extra security would need to be paid for, to prevent any trouble with the truckers. Naturally, I paid his request there and then - from petty cash.

It was one of those worst kept secrets in that the District Attorney's seventeen year old daughter was something of a whore, but I made sure it became secret no more as, I splashed her with gifts and paraded her around town. I even gave her the use of my American Express and Diners club card without hesitation, and made sure everyone saw us arrive.

It was the charity fundraiser for the local college team that I think i really nailed in the nails for my fall from society - you would be surprised at how well the post ivy league go to  protect their own.  For as in front of the two hundred guests, on the lawn of the DC gardens, I and the little Missy...well I think you can fill in the blanks there.

As my business and social standing began to fail, my family remained surprisingly strong and  it did lead me to question my motives. Another trip to those truckers at the remote stop providing them with photos of my oldest daughter and where she would be, soon speeded up things. I knew my work was done when my wife called me a monster when I returned late in the small hours stinking of perfume and when heard of the news said "the little bitch probably deserved it"


So now I sit in the most run down hotel room I could find in the entire state. On my way here I paid a bum to beat me up to add to the pain, but alas I am not crying, no matter how much I try. I have been sitting in the same position for four hours now and just can't get any gloom into my mind at all. I feel surprisingly sober after getting half way through my second bottle of bourbon.  I turned on the radio and another Elvis song is playing. How apt I think as You're the Devil In Disguise fills the room.

Done for a Leeds Savage writing task, entitled "Elvis"


  1. I can tell it's well written when you leave me severely depressed... The story sucked me right in.

  2. He lived quite a life, and all boiled down to an Elvis song. This was a well-written, engaging story.

  3. Chance, you wouldn't believe how many different aspects of this story I associate with, (though, thankfully, not the depression). I turned 8 years old on the day Elvis died, my dad works for a trucking company based in NC, and, oddly enough, I have the line "twenty years later" in my #fridayflash this week, although the story is quite different from this.

    This has the perfect ring of depression and though I feel sorry for the MC, the story itself is well written. Great work!

  4. Now that was a downward spiral. I never cared much for Elvis, but there is something haunting about that song. I agree with Laura about being sucked into this. Nice job.

  5. Solid story. I like the character's thoughts on "Heartbreak Hotel" and how it fit into his life leading to the end. The final song leaves a nice ring.



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