Category Archives: Christopher Allen

“Wuv Me, Tender”

Thanks to the wise words of Barry Manilow, Jesse became a singer. He knew he could make the young girls cry if they’d give him half a chance.
+++++“One for the money.” He stroked his left porkchop. “Two for the show.” Los Americanos Cantina wouldn’t wait all night, not even for The King.
+++++The karaoke regulars, their heads in their fishbowl margaritas, slobbered Lisping Elvis, Lisping Elvis as Jesse swaggered past the cash register. His speech impediment was more cwust for crust than thithy for sissy, but too late for splitting hairs—he’d been stamped. His Tuesday Elvis tribute was a killer, especially when he donned his white bell-bottom jumpsuit and burns.
+++++He handed the MC his song selections and mounted his booth far from the young, star-alike cliques. As Angie Ledbetter—his only serious competition—took the stage, he glanced up from his extra spicy guacamole and ordered more salsa picante. “Set my soul afiwer, Pedwo!” Heat helped him hit the high notes.
+++++Jesse air-clapped for Angie when she was done, stirred three packets of Splenda in his tea and thought how quiet the cantina would be if the kiddies here had their tongues cut out. He used to drink his tea with sugar, but at 43 he was bulging toward Fat Elvis. And he only had the one jumpsuit.
+++++“Give it up for Elvis!” The MC slid in a CD.
+++++Jesse Jailhouse-rocked past a table of Teenage Wynonna Judds. “Thank ya, thank ya vewy much.”
+++++He was winding up his arms to strike his famous boogie pose as the door to the cantina cling-a-linged. She hadn’t been at karaoke in weeks, but here she was: Tender, his little red-haired filly. This called for a song change ASAP.
+++++The MC reprogrammed the machine. Jesse kneed into his ballad pose. He locked eyes on Tender for the eight-bar intro.
+++++“Wuv me, Tender,” he sang. “Wuv me Twue.”
+++++Jesse knew the song was a droning downer. He rarely performed it, but if any song could make this young girl cry it was this one. He adored her, glowing in raging profile, arguing with the waiter, acting as if she wasn’t going crazy for his royal hips. He closed his eyes so he could sing to only her—and slit her generation’s throat. When he opened them, Tender’s booth was Tenderless. The song was over. Polite applause crackled over laughter and yapping.
+++++After three Garth Brookses and a thin Trisha, Tender took the stage. A tender Tanya Tucker. The high notes were thin, but the package was all there. The applause didn’t stop until Tender plopped down in her booth and lit a Lucky.
+++++“Pwetty wittle package,” Jesse mouthed as he passed her booth.
+++++The lights came up and the MC announced the night’s winner: “Angie Ledbetter for her rendition of ‘You Lie’!”
+++++He couldn’t win every night. It was his own fault. He’d thrown the contest by singing that slow song for Tender. He fastened his cape and headed to the parking lot in a flood of tequila-drunken youth. A pro, he never drank on karaoke nights. He loved his El Camino too much for that.
+++++“Lisping Elvis?” A little hand brushed his shoulder sequins. “My car won’t start.”
+++++He swivelled into the longing eyes of his filly, Tender. “It’s Kismet.”
+++++“Actually it’s my daddy’s Dodge. But whatever. Can you take me home?” She got into Jesse’s car without waiting for an answer.
+++++“Santa Cwaus is coming down your chimney tonight.”
+++++“Huh?”
+++++They drove. For miles. In an unpleasant silence. Tender was heady with cherry candy and smoke. She lived in Music City—twenty-five cherry-smoky miles to Nashville. “Awh you wonesome tonight?” Jesse asked and tickled his Dashboard Elvis. And giggled. And. Giggled.