Marya Kalen
Writer and Artist
                                                 Sample Chapter One

      “Jack Wigan! Awesome performance, Jack. Really great.” The M.C. took the
microphone from the little man in the glittering white jumpsuit and tucked it into the
black rubber holster of the mic stand.
      “Wasn’t he great, ladies and gentlemen?” he asked, prodding them into another
round of applause.
      Jack bowed and waved as he made his way down the stage stairs.
      The MC turned his attention back to the audience. “So is everybody enjoying
themselves this weekend?”
      He listened to the garbled hoots and shouts from the crowd.
      “Have ya had enough Elvis for the day?” He queried, girding himself for the
inevitable answer.
      The crowd in the darkened theatre sounded a resounding ‘No!’
      “Okay! I guess we’ll keep ‘er going then!” He hitched up his tight black leather
pants and slicked back his sideburns while the audience squealed out in agreement.
“Are you ready for your next contestant? This guy, wow… this next performer comes all
the way from Manitouwadge, Ontario. I think that’s just east of Santa’s workshop, isn’t
it, Buddy?” He pointed offstage to the waiting performer who was nervously hopping
from foot to foot, the fringes on his jumpsuit fluttering and bouncing.
      “Just kidding, Buddy. I’ve never been there, but I’m sure it’s a nice place to be
from. Okay folks, here he is, from Manitouwadge, Ontario, please welcome Buddy, the
Ultimate… Altima!”
      The audience broke into hesitant applause until a screech of tinny recorded music
blasted through the stadium speakers. With a collective hiss, they scrambled to cover
their ears.
      Undaunted, Buddy strutted out and spun into the center of the stage; long beaded
fringes swinging wildly with every movement. He grabbed the microphone with one
hand covered in brash gold rings, the cubic zirconia sparkling in the light. He loosely
pointed at nothing with the other equally bejeweled hand and tapped his wooden
Cuban heel nervously in time with the music. His lips contorted into a vague sneer. He
winked at one of the ladies sitting in the ring of illumination around the foot of the
stage. Sneered again, then stepped back and started singing…
      “As I’m walking through the rain…” he sang with great aplomb. He began to sweat
beneath his jet black latex wig, loosening the glue holding it to
his forehead, but he didn’t notice. The performance was all that mattered; they were
expecting a show and he was about to give them their money’s worth.
Besides, he had something big planned. Something they would never forget.
      Okay, he thought. Here goes nothing. He abruptly stopped singing and raised his
hand against the light, shielding his eyes, just as he’d been practicing all week in his
bedroom back home. A diamond-studded lightning bolt ring flashed in the bright
      “Hang on.” He exclaimed in an exaggerated drawl. “Oh, hang on. Ah… ah can’t do
this. Stop the music.” He made a slicing motion at his throat.
      He removed his purple sunglasses and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and
forefinger dramatically. “I got somethin’ on my mind, y’know what I’m
sayin’? Ah know this’ll cost me points, and I thank the judges…”
      The soundboard operator hit the stop button on the ancient control board. Buddy
had slipped him five bucks earlier in the afternoon to help him with
his shenanigans. He cued up the next song, sat back in his squeaky chair and yawned.
He shaded his eyes and squinted out into the audience, trying to see the five men and
women of the judging panel seated in the fifth row, but
couldn’t see beyond the large woman in the turquoise dress with the big pink hat.
      “Ah hope y’all will understand that this is somethin’ I got to do. Somethin’ a whole
lot more important than winning prizes right now. If you all
will indulge me for just a few moments, you’ll understand.”
      He took their silence as permission.
      “Hey, baby doll? You out there?” He shaded his eyes again, knowing there was no
way of seeing his girlfriend, but thinking it looked rather sexy.
      “C’mon up here, darlin’.”
      The audience applauded politely and looked around in the darkness. A slender
young woman with long flowing brown hair, dressed in a modest blue knee length dress
and flat heels walked gingerly down the aisle and up the stairs. Buddy gently took her
hand and led her onto the stage.
      She blushed and waved awkwardly to the crowd.
      The M.C. had turned down the five dollar bribe, but was still willing to help Buddy in
his big moment. He slid a big red velvet overstuffed chair out from backstage and
placed it on the spot marked with a green masking tape X.
Buddy seated her into the chair and kissed her tenderly. Stepping back, he introduced
her. “Ladies and gentlemen, this here’s my girl. Isn’t she the
most beautiful creature you ever laid eyes on?”
      Again, polite applause.
      “We’ve only known each other for a few weeks, but already I know we’re destined
to spend eternity together. So today I have a very special question to ask her.”
      He pointed to the sound booth and called boldly, “Maestro, if you please!”
      The music man punched ‘play’ on the CD player. A new song erupted from the
speakers and, at the back of the theatre, the doors to the lobby burst open. A lively
parade of Elvii, all in a variety of costumes— jumpsuits, gold lamè jackets, and tight
black leather suits—came dancing down the aisle.
      “Won’t you wear my ring…?” Buddy sang as a dozen shining Elvis Tribute Artists
wriggled their way onstage. One by one they approached the chair,
placed a single red rose in his girl’s arms, kissed her tenderly on the cheek, then took
a place in the growing semi-circle onstage where they backed up
Buddy’s singing with oo’s and ahh’s. They swayed and snapped their fingers while
Buddy gyrated and swooned, making full use of the stage. The sound technician
grudgingly earned the remainder of his five dollars by swinging the red and yellow
disco lights around the audience, creating a somewhat carnival atmosphere to the
      A snappy bark came from the theatre door from which the Elvii had emerged.
Presley…a little pug pup, dressed in a dazzling blue cascade jumpsuit, came trotting
down the aisle, a garish, oversized leather belt slipping down around the sparkling
anklets that ringed his paws, threatening to trip him on his journey.
      The techie shone a spotlight to help Presley on his way. The light revealed the
oversized sunglasses and big black sideburns that had been duct taped to
the dog’s head. One black curl fell over the pug’s nose. Presley stared at it with bulging
eyes. He grinned and panted, his short black tongue puffing in and out of his flat little
      “Come here, Presley!” called his trainer from the front of the stage, and the little
dog went bounding down the aisle, belt dragging behind him. The audience cheered as
his trainer lifted him onto the stage.
      “Go on!” the trainer encouraged.
      Buddy had finished singing and the room had gone quiet. He bent on one knee
beside the big red velvet chair and called the pug over. Presley bounced over,
lollygagging; excited to be part of the action.
      “What do we have here?” Buddy overacted, scrambling his fingers around Presley’
s neck. He unzipped a little gold lamè pouch that was attached to the dog’s collar,
pulled out a crystal box and held it up for the world to see.
      “Could it be?” he said into the sweaty microphone. He opened the box and the
tinkling of a tune started up. He couldn’t see the audience but he was sure
there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. "I’m pulling this off!", he thought happily, his heart
beating wildly.
      Buddy reached into the crystal jewelry box and removed the tiny diamond ring. He
slipped it on his lady’s finger. Then, picking up on the melody emanating from the tiny
jewel box speaker, Buddy started to mid song.   
           “…falling in love...”
      That’s all he was able to choke out before bursting into tears.
      The audience applauded politely as Buddy fell into his girl’s arms, holding her like
he’d never let her go. The other Elvii clapped him on the back, congratulating him as
they made their way off stage. The judges bent over their evaluation sheets, sending
off their results to be tallied backstage.
                                                      ~ * ~
      “Weeeeell, Mrs. Elvis. Let me see,” insisted Wanda, one of the festival’s
organizers, when they got backstage.
      “Show her, hon.” Buddy instructed. Shyly she shifted the bundle of flowers to her
right arm and presented the ring.
      Wanda took her hand and bent over it like a pawnbroker. “Hmm. It’s nice. You all
kin get away with a tiny ring; you havin’ such delicate hands and all. I’m afraid it would
get lost on mine.” She flashed her fleshy digits in the air. “So when’s the big day?
Where are you going to have the ceremony?”
      Buddy cut off any chance his fiancée had of answering any questions. He had big
plans for their wedding.
      “We’ll have to discuss it, of course, but I was hoping we could pop down to Vegas
next month. You know, get hitched at the Little White Wedding
Chapel? I could wear my suit? It would be a hoot!”
      Both women shot him a cold stare.
      “A girl wants more than ‘a hoot’ fer her weddin’, Buddy,” Wanda scolded. “I surely
hope you put as much thought into that ceremony as you did into this one. Vegas.
Really, now, Buddy.” She patted the young woman’s hand. “Nice to meet you, darlin’. I’
ve got to go. No rest for the wicked!”
      Wanda excused herself and waddled off to watch the next performer from the
      “Congratulations, you two.” Jack Wigan, the performer who had preceded Buddy
onstage greeted them and shook both their hands warmly. He had a
thick Irish accent. Buddy hadn’t noticed it when he sang.
      “Thanks. How did you do? Get your marks yet? Think you’ll make it to the finals?”
Buddy asked, nodding toward the score tallying room.
      “Don’t know yet. I’m still waiting. Sorry I missed your performance; Wanda just told
me wot you done. Wish I’d known, mate, I’d a helped you owt.”
      “That’s okay, I didn’t need you; I had enough guys. It was pretty awesome. Too
bad you missed it. Don’t you think it was pretty cool, baby doll?”
      She just smiled weakly and buried her face in her roses.
      “I hope the judges still give me some kind of decent mark. I mean, I deserve
something for personality, I think.” Buddy raised his upper lip in a sneer and guffawed.
      “Well, you’ll find out soon enough. You can go get yer marks roight away, not like
at ‘ollingdale. You been to ‘ollingdale before, ‘aen’t ye, Buddy?”
Buddy nodded and fiddled with his gold thunderbolt necklace. “This’ll be my second
year. Third time here in Walkerton. And yeah, I like getting my marks right away, too. If
you don’t get the results for six weeks, you don’t get a chance to dispute them. That’s
not fair!” Buddy exclaimed, flinging his hands in the air.         “Like last year when they
said my jumpsuit pants were too short!
Amazing. They weren’t too short. I can’t believe they took points off for that.”
      “Did they take off points or just make a comment?” Jack asked.
      “I didn’t make it into the semi’s, did I? That’s the only reason I could think of. My
performance was perfect. Maybe my voice wasn’t spot on, but neither was Doug’s and
he made it through. And you know Ian? Ian Mackleray or roy or whatever his last name
is? He forgot the words to ‘Mountain’ and he got into the finals!”
      Jack just shrugged and said, “You ne’er know wot the judges are thinkin’. They're
the kings around here.”
      “Yeah, well, that’s not right,” Buddy grumbled. “Someone should do something
about that.”
      The door to the tally room opened and a young man called out Jack’s name.
      “Judgement day, folks,” Jack said with a salute.
      “Gotta go see ‘ow the judges treated the ol’ man this time around. Good luck,
Buddy. See you in ‘ollingdale. An’ again, congratulations, mate.” He
stepped into the office, closing the door behind him.
      Buddy, realizing they were finally alone in the dim hall, pulled her close to him and
kissed her hard on the mouth. His hand snaked up along her hip and
waist, coming to rest on her soft breast, caressing it, but only for a brief moment. She
turned away, pushing his hand away with her elbow and squirmed out of his embrace.
      “Buddy!” She contorted her chin and wiped her lips on her shoulder, the bouquet
of roses taking up the available space in her forearms. “Not here. I
mean… That was sweet. The roses, the chair, the guys. I can’t believe you gave up
your spot in the contest to do this. I know how much the competition means to you.”
      “Don’t worry about it, buttercup… I’m sure the judges will be swept away by the
romance. After all, that’s what all this is about, isn’t it? The show? I think that
performance might just land me in first place, just don’t tell the guys. They’ll all be
doing it if they see it gets them marks. You’ll see. Hey, do you like the ring?”
      She held out her long lacquered fingers from under the bundle of flowers and
squinted at the ring. “Buddy, we’ve got to talk.”
      They weren’t going to be given the chance, for they heard the music end with a
squeal and the sound of thunderous applause. The next performer had finished his
song and was withdrawing to the backstage area. A small crowd of stagehands and
festival staff gathered around the fit, young entertainer clad in tight black leather pants
and jacket. Buddy groaned. It was Nick. Slick Nick.
Has to go and ruin my moment, he thought. Slick Nick the superstar. Fuck.
     “That was amazing!” Wanda gushed madly. She had appeared out of nowhere to
congratulate Nick. He swept his head back with a whipping motion and his hair obeyed,
tumbling immediately into place. The girls from the canteen surrounded him, holding
out their programs, begging for an autograph.         
      Nick laughed, showing perfectly even, perfectly white teeth. “One at a time, girls. I’
ve got time for each and every one of you lovely…” He stopped when he spied Buddy’s
      “Well, well, well, well, well!” He slicked back his hair with one hand, grinned and
strutted forward to greet her. “Congratulations on your forthcoming nuptials, lovely
lady. I can’t believe I let one such as beautiful as you get away.” He gently took her
hand, removed the flowers from her arm and held them in front of them like a shield as
he drew her close. He sniffed her hair and sighed.         
      She giggled, her eyes sparkling. Buddy glared at him and stated as firmly as he
could. “She’s mine, Nick.”
      “Possessive little pup, isn’t he? Well, my darling, make sure he takes good care of
you. If he doesn’t, you know where to find me.” He bent and kissed her hand gently
then stepped away, letting the flowers take his place at her bosom. He turned back to
the gushing fans behind him and reached randomly for a pen.
      Buddy fumed but said nothing more.
      “Hey, Budd… ay!” A warm voice came from behind him. Relief.
      “Chet! You’re here!” He wheeled and greeted yet another Elvis in black leather.
      Chet set his knuckles in the air and playfully sparred with his friend. “Had to be
here, man! Woulda been here sooner, but I had the show at the Beacon. Just a lunch
thing, but, y’know, obligations and all that. And I wasn’t about to turn down that kind of
money for a one hour show. Besides, you know... The ladies…”
      “You’re not competing this year, are you?” Buddy asked, hoping against hope that
the answer would be negative; he’d never be able to contend against Chet and his tall,
handsome features. Chet had just turned forty; only a year and a half younger than
Buddy, but when he was in costume and makeup he didn’t look a day over twenty nine.
He still had all his own hair, too.
      “Yup, sure am! I’ll be in the Professional Concert years this time around.” He
shrugged. “Which is fine, I figure, that way I’m not in the same category as this
asshole…” He kicked playfully out backwards at Nick, who tried to grab his foot. Buddy
laughed lamely, glad to be mixing with the cool guys.
      “How’d you do?” Chet asked Buddy. “Get your marks yet?”
      “Nah, still waiting.”
      “Ya want yer marks, little Buddy?” Nick asked, chucking him under the chin. He
turned to Wanda, who was still standing as close as she could, basking in Nick’s
glorious presence.
      “Wanda, my darling.” Nick took the glossy magazine from the plump lady’s hand
and playfully smacked Buddy in the chest with it. “You gonna get my main man here his
marks? He looks like he’s gonna bust a gut if he don’t get ‘em soon.” He opened the
book to page two and scrawled his signature across his photograph.
      “Oh, sure, hon. I think they’re just about ready for you anyway,” she said.
      “There ya go, man. That’s the way to take care of business, y’know what I’m
sayin’?” Nick scruffled Buddy’s hair.
      Buddy made a grab for his hand, annoyed. Nick knew he was wearing a wig—he
was going to unglue it if he wasn’t careful. Dumbass.
      Buddy grumbled a thank you and followed Wanda toward the judge’s room.
      “Sorry, Buddy. You’ll have to go in alone,” Wanda said, holding the door half open.
She cast her eyes at his future wife.
      Chet stepped up, took her hand from his and spun her around. “I’ll take care of
your girl, Buddy. Real good care. I promise.” He bent and planted a big fat kiss on her
ruby red lips and snuggled into the nape of her neck. He whispered something Buddy
couldn’t make out, and she slapped at his arm and giggled.
      Buddy gasped. He took a deep breath and tamped down the jealousy growing in
his chest and the tears burning in his eyes. After all, this was Chet, not Nick. He forced
a smile.
      “That’s what best friends are for, right Chet?”
Marya Kalen
Elvis in Wonderland
by Marya Kalen

Buddy has only been in the Elvis
Tribute Artist game for a couple
of years and he's having the time
of his life!  He would love to quit
his day job and take on
entertaining full time. He truly
believes he's got what it takes:
Talent, top-notch costumes, a
beautiful girlfriend, a great car.
So what's stopping him?

'Elvis in Wonderland' explores
this mysterious world of
sideburns and glitter.  From the
creation of his suits and the
constant practicing of his act to
the bizarre backstage antics at the
competitions and shows; you'll
get a insider's look at this
fascinating society.

There are many characters in this
fantasy world: Blazing stars who
bring Elvis to life with amazing
glitz, glamour and charisma. The
slightly less talented Elvii who
try, with all their hearts, to
honour the King.

There are Elvii with gimmicks:
Elvis on stilts, Emerald Elvis and
Tap dancing Elvis.  There are
Female Elvii; baby Elvii; even
dog Elvii!  You'll meet 'em all!

“It’s a strange, wonderful
community to be involved in.  
Some of these guys take their
roles way too seriously, while
others are just in it for the fun!  
Every level of involvement takes
a lot of hard work and
dedication, whether you be an
ETA, an assistant or a fan.  
Hopefully the reader will come
away with a new perspective,
and perhaps new respect, for
these entertainers in Jumpsuits.”
End of Chapter One
Want to read more?  Order at the Amazon link below!
Elvis in Wonderland
Fiction/Humour Novel