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In his house, there are beautiful things. In the Jungle Room, there are statues of monkeys and a waterfall. In the Pool Room, there is a twist of tapestry for a ceiling. There is red and gold everywhere. He, himself, is a work of beauty-sideburn, lip, pelvis. What's known as a human god. Above men, though with them. Born among us. However different. He brings the heavens down to earth, down to his satin sheets. And I am a bit of the heavens to him. The King wants me, in his desire. The King desires me in his wanting for the love that he wants and can have. When I open my legs to him, I will give him his have, and for myself take away the one-in-a-hundred chance the Pill will fail (they made me prove I was taking the Pill; I have signed forms relinquishing rights against the King, which seems right, for them, but as for me I recognize no right offered or kept and saved under any but the condition of loving and the going down of feeling where both get at it and make with it) and I will have his child. His only beloved son. To be in this world, through my womb, loins. Though this is not all.

I do not open my legs for just any man. I am twenty-one years of age and I have had my chances. Very few women save themselves anymore. I do not blame them-there are too many reasons. I also have my reasons. But now when I measure out my reasons they do not touch my yearnings: I am complete and untouched for him and to be by him. That is all I need to know.

In the upstairs hallway we are there for him. And I would like to know, what is the right ratio between king and person? And what is the degree of virginity he truly wants and needs? Because I can tell that some of these women do not have enough. I can hear them saying, "It doesn't count," but we know. I can almost see the hinges in their hips in the corners of their sarcastic smiles.

Still, I like to think that we, we seven, are all virgins. He likes virgins. Seven per night, when he is not out of town. All seven in some way, though it may take fourteen to sixteen hours. That's what we talk about, if we talk. How he has treated other women. But we have no way of knowing, now do we? But all of us, and feeling it, we do, we can still tell all of us, to ourselves, stories of how it's been for other women with him, even as, and I know this, we all think of ourselves as the one for him, the one he'll remember, and maybe marry.

"I heard he's . . . I heard it's not so big," says one of them, blonde.

"You can say 'cock,'" says another.


"Don't say it," a second blonde says.

"You women are weird to be squeamish."

"It's dignity."

"This is dignity?"

"You're not a virgin."

"Oh yes I am."

"Your attitude . . ."

"Is why I'm here."

"If he finds out you're not a virgin . . ."

"He'll do something," says the second blonde.

"He'll send us all home," the first blonde says, eyeing her friend and nodding, but now it seems like a routine the blondes are doing for each other. And suddenly I know they will go in together.

"Don't worry, girls. I'll bleed. Believe me."

"He won't know the difference," I put in, spitefully.

They all look at me, meanly. I cannot please the King, I worry, but in my not pleasing him I will know that he and I are not the same and I am bringing myself to the King as a person from the world and he cannot have me.

We seven, counting the one in there now, we seven, we represent the continents. I am the continent of America and I recognize no other. I have come by bus though I have the money to fly. I have the money to fly because I work for a living in the United States.

Billy Zip is a boy I used to love and now undate every Saturday night when we don't go out. Billy Zip is a zero. Is a nothing. In the city of Milwaukee on Forty-third Street, against a Harnischfeger building, he touched what only Elvis must touch, against the building, with beer, always with beer, on his breath. He wrecked the zipper of my winter coat, opened it from the bottom, and his hands coming up my sweater touched my warm roll of belly. The ice. My scream had a cloud to it. So cold. "Cold bitch," he said.

You ain't no friend of mine, I said, in my mind. If only he knew his unfriendliness. If only he knew which side of the song to be on-the side of needing but not getting, of being frustrated but respectful. The side Elvis himself sings so well. I ran away from him. He chased me down Forty-third Street. I got across National because I wasn't afraid of the cars. I ran across Forty-third Street-they got brakes. I was running from all of those factories, machine shops, ball-bearing plants. The five-story factories with big walls of windows made of small windows, and the cement first story, and the employees' entrance at some unexpected place.

I kept running down Forty-third Street and then kept walking until I was looking into County Stadium from way behind the centerfield bleachers. I walked down the hill. I wandered the parking lot, crazy as a loon. And nearby were the spirits of great men. Here all the men did their best and the people cheered. There was my job-secretary. If a company is a body, then the secretary is a-it was exactly what I knew. I had seen this. I knew it was just a matter of time before one of them got to me. And I'd end up in a duplex on Fortieth Street, so his walk to work would be short, and so for his bar: Pip's, Irene's, Bindy's, Gene's, Dave's, Dale's, Dee's, The Happy Tap, The Cellar, The Attic, The Cave, Vince and Dottie's Christmas Tree Inn, Cookie's Tap Room, George's Unit Bar, Mike's Overtime Tap, The Corner Pocket, The Back Door, The Second Shift, The Starlight, The Peppermill, The Schoolhouse. Neon beer signs between the concrete and brick factories and the wood and aluminum flats. It was time to devote myself, before he got me, whoever he was, and made me open my legs and then it would be all over.

No, it will never be over. I save money religiously. I never spend it. I never want to be without as much money as possible. So I can be on my own if I need to. And this is how we see how this is what it is. The money that the King has as being what he does for us and the money I have as being what I can be to me. If necessary. And to be balanced. And to know. To know that this is the thing: to be with the other women, and still yet to be by myself in his beautiful house. Rehearsing things to say in my head: "I believe you are a person, Mr. Presley. I believe that entitles you to my love and so your love can come to me, if it would, out of you. Us, as people, and right now, giving and getting what is known as love, sung into our one brain of need by you yourself, for us and yourself at once-thus the need for mutual feeling, because we have to go down and make this thing together, as people, for the magic to be what it can be when we just think about it, later, for then after you'll be the King again."

The door opens. The first girl comes out, in a jumpsuit and big hoop earrings. She tilts her head so her blonde hair falls over her face, but then we can see the dark roots where the hair that she will always be having come out of herself is coming out, still. A small man with thin black hair, in an off-white leisure suit with large patch pockets, comes out of his post further down the hall. He's holding a transistor radio to the side of his head. He meets her and she takes his elbow. He winks as they go by, whispers, "Ali, TKO, in the fifteenth." He bluffs an uppercut with his radio hand. I can almost smell his shiny black shoes through the cloud of our mingled perfumes. I can almost smell the leather case on the radio, which, to all of us, and I know this, broadcasts some different message to each of us, from where we come from, for just a second. And then, in the next second, but just for a second, and I know this, we all think of what, now, the man, Ali, needs.

I have told myself that I have thought of the needs of men too many times in too many ways. I have seen the bra burners and I have fingered their literature. There is time to consider what the magazines are saying. There are worlds opening that were never open before, just as there are legs that must never open and that there are legs that will open, still, I have no doubt, despite everything, and I think, is this it, Is this the way with Mr. Presley? Is this the way? But when a man sings a beautiful song, and is who he is, who among us can resist on a new principle? The strong can resist and the rest of us go down in loving flames, in hunks of burning love, in between what happened and what will happen.

(The man told us through the gate, He'll be home tonight, come on in, let's have a look at you.)

By way of good-bye the redhead rises before me to her feet, pulls in adjustment the strap over the heel of her foot, of the spiked heel she wears and totters forward on. And I know unprepared in her mind, something blank is all she has, because she's not thinking of what to do with this: she's just happening to herself, not even with the King, though he hips between her open legs. Who can be a redhead? Who can be a blonde and a brunette and a redhead?

So to save money religiously I took the bus from Milwaukee to Memphis, to have a go at the King. The only man who's worth it. The only man who would be worthy of ruining me and dragging me down.

But don't you know, Miss Redhead, that to be prepared in your mind is all that everything depends on if it's part of anything you live on? So and when I kiss him it will be to kiss that man who waits for me at a pool table at a bar on Greenfield Avenue, in the shadow of Allis-Chalmers, and Rexnord, and Briggs & Stratton and the P & H Harnischfeger Corporation. At the south side of the valley which splits the city of Milwaukee and takes train tracks across its soft belly, south of where the freeway goes, south of Pigsville, south of the Miller Brewery, south of County Stadium where the teams of men play. And when I kiss the King it will be so I can kiss that man later with a mouth made by King kisses and by my imagination into the mouth I had and always will have. The legs I got and will have. The opened legs. And I know that all of them are men, and only men, when the two are naked and the woman opens her legs. And I choose among men, with a man, how it makes a value, and to live by. And I will bring the King's value with me, because I will have made it with him with my own hands and body, my own imaginary hands, body, when I finally lay my true husband down.

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