The year was 1999, a time of strange foreboding. Newscasters made serious and wild predictions about what would happen when the clocks rolled over into 2000. Banking systems could collapse, nuclear power plants could shut down, the locks and dikes of the Netherlands could fail to keep its coastline above water.

It was also the summer that Noose made his first road trip. Their names “Noose” and “Drum” went with that trip and disappeared as soon as it was over.Though now, years later, when he thinks about those days, the names return.

Back then, Noose had been working for a lawn service, cutting lawns with an old lawnmower he had to ride out of the flatbed of a rust­ing truck while: Drum—his friend’s road trip name— pruned hedges into walls. One July evening, the breeze alive with the cicadas’longing, his father took him out for barbeque, ordered up two tall beers, and told him he was “untying the knot.” Noose supplied “for the third time.” He felt like saying he’d not be around for the next one, and he never considered that someday the knot might be his own. When he asked how Darlene was taking it, his father confirmed his suspicion that no, he hadn’t told her yet, though she probably saw it coming. Noose had mostly ignored their arguments, and left the house ro hang out with Drum and his older brother at Jackson’s apart­ment downtown. His girlfriend, Press, was usually there.

“You’ll see when you get married,” his father said

“So where do I come in,” he asked.

That’s when his father said, “We’ll be moving out. Selling the house. I got us a great apartment over past the watch factory, a swimming pool. New friends.” But Noose was pissed that his senior year would be happening at a new school across town. Space Cranks, the band he and Drum had put together two years ago, was catching on, though he suspected that to varying degrees they were in it for rhe girls. What girls?

It had taken the band a while to settle on their name. Some of the suggestions were Dese Dazed Days, Spunk, and Fire and Vice. Drum com­plained that Space Cranks was too close to Ryan Landry’s Space Pussy, but he’d been outvoted with Noose saying maybe a little of Space Pussy’s fame would rub off on them.

Two days later, while throwing rakes and lawn bags into the truck, Drum asked Noose if he’d be able to borrow a car, that Jackson and Press were getting married. “They already have a reservation at the Elvis Presley Chapel in Vegas.” Drum said this with a straight face.

When Noose asked “Why my car?” Drum said Jackson’s car wasn’t up for the trip and reminded Noose that he’d mentioned his father and Darlene were splitting up— Noose didn’t let him finish. Their second car logistically belonged to Darlene, though Drum knew it mostly sat unused because she jogged to her work at the insurance agency.

“Shit, man, I can’t just give you Darlene’s car,” Noose said.

“Bur you can borrow it, right?” Drum said. “I’m going cause I’m the best man.” He motioned for Noose to drive the lawnmower up the ramp and into the truck bed. “And 1 need you to help me drive. You can’t say no.”

That night his father and Darlene had another fight, so Noose and his sax ended up at Jackson’s place making plans. First, Noose had to wrap his mind around the unlikely reason for the trip. Shit, The Elvis Presley Chapel. Who knew such a thing existed.

Press had discovered it. As plans got underway, she made them sit through a promotional video of “Elvis” conducting a wedding ceremony.

Sure enough the impostor looked almost exactly like photographs Noose had seen of the older Elvis, silky paunch, long curved sideburns, seductive sneer.

When Elvis launched into “Love Me Tender,”Noose played air guitar till Jackson took a swat at him.

Transfixed by the video, Press sat on the arm of the couch, the remote hanging from her hand, wondering aloud if it was a lip-sync. Noose felt slightly ashamed to see tears in her eyes. Then Jackson declared that with two great chauffeurs along he wasn’t going to do any of the driving. Noose was relieved. He couldn’t sec himself sitting in the back seat with Press, tongue-tied, thinking about her knees. She was four years older than Noose and Drum. When she was head cheerleader, the boys in the bleachers felt permitted to stare at her tight sweater, hope for a glimpse of lacc panties, and jerk ofFon game nights. For two entire basketball seasons, her blonde hair whipped around her face and her legs kicked impossibly high and then she was gone—taking courses at Community and going steady with Jackson. And now, damn, a road trip with Press—and Jackson. Helplessly, he agreed to borrow Darlene’s car.

When he got home that night, his father was snoring in the guest room, and Darlene, her hands in the air to dry a glistening coat of nail pol­ish, was deep into a bottle of wine in front of a black and white movie. Two cars in rhe driveway, and soon there would be none. He considered telling his father about the trip, but decided not to take a chance his father would object – though on what grounds Noose couldn’t imagine.

Departure day, he waited till Darlene had left the house, then he cleaned rhe car of her stuff-—red umbrella, sun glasses, gum, tissues, red change purse full of dimes for meters, and left it all inside the garage. As planned, his note said he was borrowing it and he’d be back in good time.

Let his father deal with her when he gave her his own big news.

An hour later, the four of them were on the road, with eight days to get from the golden arches of St, Louis to the Vegas strip.

Noose became “Noose” because the minute they left the outskirts of the city and were coasting down the interstate, Press had leaned over from the back scat, blonde hair swinging against Noose’s right shoulder, and announced that they all needed new names. “I’m tired of Kathleen,”she said, “and 1 hate ‘Kathy.’” So she was going to be ‘Press’ in honor of Elvis’s last name. She made everyone say it—”Press.” Noose liked rhe percussive quality of ‘Presssssss.”

She tapped Bobby’s shoulder, saying he was next. It didn’t take him long to say that he’d be ‘Drum.’ Ihey all laughed, because they’d forbidden Bobby to drum on the dashboard, though Noose could tell that he was dy­ing to back up rhe new Morphine CD. Hands twitching on Ms knees, he’d been as jumpy as Roy Haynes, added that year to Modern Drummer’s Hall of Fame, Noose admired how Haynes, his hands as floppy as wings and hard as anvils, could turn everything into a drum.

“You’re next,” Press said, tapping his shoulder.

Shir, if he had to play this game, he wanted something edgy, some­thing disjunctive—a word his English teacher used. Five miles later, he said, “You ready. I’m Noose,” and they all laughed a bit nervously.

“You got it,” Press said. She leaned back against Jackson and tucked her head under his bristly chin, and said he was next. Jackson’s deep-seteyes seemed to look into his future and approve. But for once, he refused to humor her and rubbing his chin on her hair, he said he was cool with just being Jackson.

Two hundred miles out of St. Louis, Noose allowed himself to think that stealing Darlene’s car might have been a bad idea. What if she put out an alert? I told Drum, who was taking a turn at driving, to ratchet down the cruise control. “Getting pulled over could screw up the wedding.”

“Relax,” Drum said, his voice lazy, but his hands were tight on the wheel.

“Hey, you two. It’s Noose’s car. So take it down to maybe 75,”Jack­son ordered from the back seat. Press said, “Second that,” and the car brakes squealed.

As if to ease the tension, Jackson said, “Okay, guys. Time for show and tell.” He handed Noose his case of CDs, and balanced Drum’s on the armrest.

Tire guys had agreed on fifteen CDs each and now they screamed and yelled, giving every CD a thumbs up or down. Noose was proud as hell that his CDs got the most votes. Press said she only listened to Elvis. For her 9th birthday, she’d been given her mother’s Elvis collection ol vinyl— singles and albums with gushing liner notes. Noose suspected they were all grateful that she couldn’t travel with a turntable. He and Drum exchanged eye-rolls until Jackson kicked the hack of their seats.

When they settled into adjacent Motel 6 rooms that night, Drum gave Noose grief about his choice of a name, “Jesus. ‘Noose?!’ What about ‘Crank Up’or’Saxman,”’ Drum wanted to know. He had his practice pad and drumsticks out and was already doing a downbeat roil, his floppy bangs keeping rhythm with his sticks. A can of peanuts sat in as symbols. La ta ta. Ta ta ta. It made Noose miss his alto sax. His hands felt empty, his lip getting soft.

“So, give. What’s with ‘Noose?’” Drum asked.

Noose shrugged and said it probably had something to do with Jackson and Press tying the knot. “You know. Knot. Noose.1’ He hadn’t told anyone but Drum that his father was untying a knot for the third time. The first divorce had happened when Noose was seven, and his memory of his father dim. TTis dad came and mostly went, leaving behind Noose, his moth­er, a huge black lab named Furze. Two years later, when Noose’s mother died suddenly, his father moved back home trailing a second wife and another black lab, this one named Bruiser. The two dogs did riot get along, which is almost all that Noose remembered about Janet. After being bitten several times by both dogs, she locked them out in the yard in rhe dead of winter when his father went to work. Three years after moving in, she left, scatter­ing dog kibble around the entire downstairs—inside cabinets, the closets, the shower, the dishwasher. It was a mess with the summer humidity and two dogs vying for the choicest morsels as if one corner of a room had barbe- que chicken and the other filet tnignon. The house still smelled like dog shit and dog kibble. About the dog bites, his father said, “Those dogs knew something about that woman that we didn’t know.” By then both dogs were hiding from Noose’s practice sessions on the sax. Darlene came along a year later and Noose remembers her asking “What’s that smell?” She painted every room in the house a pastel color. Fie told her, “Not my room,” but she had an obstinate streak and Noose’s room was pale grey though you couldn’t see it with all the band posters. Now she could paint the whole house pink if she wanted to.

They stopped for gas, restrooms and snacks, diner dinners of grey meatloaf and mashed potatoes, sometimes ribs, and crashed in Motel 6s and once in a Holiday Inn. They alternated between talking a lot and talking little.They lamented the disbanding of the Mats—the Commitments to Press— and wondered if they’d ever get back together. Years later, in 2013, that long-awaited reunion would happen, hut only after most things in their lives had fallen apart, Jackson described his fellow workers at the bank, and the strategically-placed foot buttons on the floor that the tellers were supposed to use in case of a hold-up. Twice, with his size 14 shoe, he’d set off the alarm.

More than once on the trip Press opened her diary to read a passage she’d copied whole from Greil Marcus’s Mystery Train. “’Elvis has emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor of sclilock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and, yes, a great American.’

“So there,” she said. “And those words I emphasized, well it was Marcus who put them in italics.” The first time she read it, Drum had snig­gered and Noose had sputtered into his coke till Jackson sent a fierce look at them from the back seat.

Soon, every time she read it they joined in to bawl, “yes, a great American,” while Press looked at them, suspicious of their ardor. But she was unstoppable, and seemed to know everything there was to know about Elvis. She pretended shock at Drum and Noose’s ignorance, so she filled them in on his war record, his courtship of the fourtcen-year-old Priscilla, his life-long support of his adored mother, his gilts of Cadillacs to friends, his lost (still-born) brother Jessie, his slide into a drug-ridden life, the wom­en, his death at Graceland, the vigils people still held for him.

Once Jackson asked Drum and then Noose if there were any wom­en in their sorry lives. They both said “no” which was the truth back then.

“You’ll have roadies soon enough,” Press said, ruffling Drum’s hair, from the back scat. He ducked so fast his nose almost hit the steering wheel. Noose’s own scalp shivered with anticipation, but Press only patted his shoulder as if in sympathy that it hadn’t happened yet. But Press, Press was in his car.

The miles continued to unravel across the dry flat planes of Mis­souri, Oklahoma, into the low dry hills ofTcxas. Interstates, allowed them to bypass bit cities that rose in the distance like mirages and were hard to fathom. Once, when he knew his father’s cell would be off, he’d left the message “not to worry” and gave him an ETA. Hours later he got a text back saying, “Just get your ass home.” He sent two more texts but got the same response. ‘Home was a mystery. Press was a mystery, but inspired a different kind of wonder.

Every so often Noose would insist that they clean the car of rum­pled chip bags, beer cans, candy wrappers, and since things got left behind, thev often had to walk deodorant sticks and tubes of Crest from otic motel room to the other. When they stopped to do laundry outside of Amaril­lo, Press’s colorful, bikini panties—furled like exotic flowers—sometimes showed up in the folds of their T-shirts and jeans. Several times, late at night, Noose got off just thinking about them.

Somewhere past Albuquerque, they exited at Interstate 40 and headed into a town that looked abandoned. Out here you could buy a whole town for the price of a house in St. Louis. Jackson shook Press awake and as usual handed everyone a twenty for whatever. Noose pulled in behind a jackcd-up long-haul trailer that hid his car from view. Staring at his license plate, he saw how a little duct tape would make his three into an eight pretty damn easy. He wondered if Darlene had put out a call for the car, or if his dad had sweet-talked her out of it. His dad always bragged about his way with women but if he was that good, why didn’t any Last? Besides, what was a “way with women”—Jackson just was. Noose liked Press and Jackson’s easy way of being together. How they petted each other, smoothing down this or that. Sort of the way his father was with his dogs.

Back in the car, Noose drove while Drum went in to navigator mode with the map. “Hey guys,” he said, slapping it with the back of his hand. “Since we’re driving all this way we ought to take a detour to the Grand Canyon.”

Jackson leaned forward to see where they were. Drum said they were probably fifty miles from Flagstaff, and a little past Flagstaff was the turn off for the Grand Canyon. He pointed to a brown spot and held the map up. Jackson peered a little closer over his brother’s shoulder and whis­tled. “That’s a serious detour,” he said. “Way serious.”

Press stopped braiding her hair, a process Noose loved to watch, and leaned in to look. “Fabulous idea.” She turned and gave Jackson a loud loss. “We’ll go there on the way back. It’ll be our honeymoon.”

Then she was leaning over the seat again, her hand on Noose’s shoulder, asking him how long they had the car for. Noose resisted shrug­ging that he didn’t know, just to keep her hand in place. He tried to imagine what his father said ro Darlene, how he’d made his announcement that they were through. Noose felt as if they were two people he didn’t really know, and perhaps chat’s what they’d come to think too. Surely by now she’d ranted and raved to his father about the missing car? Showed him Noose’s scrawled note. He imagined her ripping down his posters, raking one of her fancy boots to his CDs. He didn’t know her well enough to know if she would or wouldn’t, which surprised him. Belatedly.

Once, near Flagstaff, a cop bore down on them, blue lights flashing, siren blaring. Noose felt like puking.

“Cool. Stay cool,’’Jackson said. He and Press each had a hand on his shoulder as he pulled over to the gravelly side of the road. Then, just as quickly the cop car, doing at least 90, sped past them to some more serious crime or accident. Not a wedding.

The next day the neon lights of Las Vegas vied with the desert’s sun. To Noose, it felt like an atmosphere of desperation hung over the city, but Press and Jackson were not daunted,They seemed so charmed by it that Noose felt like an usher at a sold-out concert for Phish. Even Drum took off his sunglasses to take in the real dazzle of the gambler’s row.

Press insisted that she sit up front for their parade down Las Vegas Boulevard, and shrieked at every name she recognized The Riviera, The Venetian,The Mirage, Casino Royale, Caesar’s Palace, Beilagio, Monte Carlo, MGM Grand, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay. “Who gets to design and name these places,” she said. Noose was indulgently driving slow. Even he could see that these hotels were all competing for an exotic, seductive glamour. It was a glamour that just two decades in the future would look quaint, when corporate gambling money from somewhere like Dubai came to town.

The windows were down even though it was 93 degrees. Twice Noose pulled over to let people pass so he could keep up the snail’s pace decreed by an enthralled Press. She had insisted they stay at LVl I on Paradise Road because Elvis had lived on the 30th floor when it used to be The International Hotel, where, she said, “he did a record-breaking 58 consecutive shows.” Space Cranks had never covered an Elvis song and Noose knew they never would. Press had come to see them several times with Jackson and said she forgave them this oversight. Barely.

Tire honeymoon suite—actually oirc of many, of course— at LVH was conferred on Press and Jackson with hows and nods at the registration desk. Jackson had called two days ago, given his card info, announced their hurried wedding plans, and said her daddy’s private jet had been delayed in Anchorage but he’d be along to party big later in the week and, by the way, could LVH arrange a private poker game.The concierge clearly saw that their car and clothes didn’t support their earlier story of hig money, but it turned out the LVH had everything Press wanted.

Noose and Drum’s room was a discreet six doors away, but they all gathered in the wedding suite to admire the heart-shaped bathtub with its retractable ceiling, the bedroom’s mirrored wails, the patio that was larger than Jackson’s apartment. Press took a flying leap to land in the middle of the heart-shaped bed and Jackson followed, nuzzling her hair. Noose blushed at the thought that the bed could have held all four of them. They left to unpack. “Take a nap,” Press called. “This isn’t the Heartbreak Hotel. We’ll do the bars and casinos later.”

The wedding was scheduled for 8 PM. Noose knew he’d have to rein in his smirks, not look at Drum, but he actually felt nervous as he shaved and dressed. Kneeling in front of the tiny fridge, Drum called out the various alcoholic beverages at their disposal. Quickly they disposed ot two beers—toasting their luck at evading tickets and efficient cops.

Press knocked on their door and soon they were walking to rhe chapel in hot dry air. Noose’s armpits felt like sponges. He and Drum wore jackets from a thrift shop that had more jeans, boots, and string ties than anything suitable for a wedding. Jackson’s job at the bank required a suit, so his actually fit. Press smelled like an exotic flower, or maybe it was rhe roses she was carrying, heads down as if to let them rest. She was wearing the lacy white dress she’d made from two dozen fancy napkins she’d bought at -a flea market. Holding Jackson’s arm, she minced past glittering fountains, rip-tide canals and lush tropical gardens like a bride. Her back was straight and her giggles wouldn’t stop. At least four couples whispered and pointed at her and Jackson, Noose suspected that clearly their little group had “wed­ding” written ail over them. Drum was carrying a cold bottle of champagne wrapped in a hotel pillowcase. Noose’s fingers were threaded with four plastic flutes. “Flutes”was a new word for him.

They arrived at the chapel at 7:50. Palms together, a hostess—may­be a receptionist– wearing Priscilla’s 60s bouffant hairdo greeted them and gushed that Press was going to make a beautiful bride. They would surely use the couple’s photograph in their promotional materials—with permis­sion of course. “If it’s with Elvis,” Press said and tire hostess winked at Her. Noose hung back cause he sure as shit didn’t want to be in any such photo­graph. The hostess ushered them down a mirrored hallway to a tiny chapel that looked exactly as it had on the video. Except that now they really were inside this wedding cake. The hostess said she would put their lovely bottle of champagne on ice, and unthreaded the flutes from Noose’s fingers, then she asked only Press to follow her. Press kissed all three of them on the cheek and left to don the veil she had been waving at passersbv.

Minutes later, the hostess led rhem through French doors and into the Chapel. Tt was icing-white with low cozy ceilings, white satin wails, glowing wall sconces and ten rows of white pews on either side of a short aisle. They were all instructed to go to the front where she asked, “And who is the lucky groom,’’Jackson stepped forward and took a little bow. Noose felt pleased that she had to ask.

“Elvis” emerged from behind a white curtain, solemnly nodded at them, and then stood with his head bowed. His ringed hands clasped a bur­nished guitar in front of a wide silver belt. His shirt was dark with sequins or spangles stitched in circles, and open in a deep V above beli-bottoms that flared like a skirt from the knees down—not even the thrift shop had carried any.

Noose stared, lie couldn’t help himself. He had to admit that “Elvis” did look like Elvis. He’d probably won some Elvis look-alike contest back when it mattered.The thought of a room full of want-to-be Elvises almost made Noose laugh.

A camera was set tip behind them. Noose knew this from the video, and trained on Elvis and the aisle that Press would soon walk down.

“Here Comes the Bride” suddenly spilled from Elvis’s guitar, It was a startling combination, but the sound was so good Noose figured he must he playing a Martin or a Codings. This march was the only “real wedding thing” Press had asked for when she sent in her musical requests.

Elvis motioned for everyone to face the aisle, and then he saun­tered down its length, still playing, his legs doing the Elvis-the Pelvis moves that Press said had once titillated the entire Western world. Tame now, Noose thought, after Prince, Bowie, Mick Jagger’s antics, Kiss.

When Press came through the double doors, her eyes were glis­tening. Still strumming, Elvis held out his right elbow and Press tucked her hand in its crook, as if they had rehearsed this gesture, and together they strolled up the aisle. Her bouquet of four long-stemmed red roses, minus thorns, had been plucked from the huge arrangement in their suite. “One for each of my boys,” she had said. “And one for Elvis.” She was beautiful and Noose could almost forget what was going on back home, that a marriage was unraveling, that his father was leaving his third wife, whose wedding was the last time Noose had heard “Here Comes the Bride.”

Press arrived at the—the what—the Elvis altar where Elvis put his guitar aside to take her fingers and press his lips to the back of her trem­bling hand, which he then passed to Jackson. Drum was tapping his fingers against his leg, and Noose’s own fingers tingled.

Elvis strung together a few silly words from songs that Press had alerted them to about “hunka hurika burning love,” his hips and pelvis still gently gyrating, and how “it’s now or never.” Then, moving to one side, he played “Love Me Tender’’in velvety cones that matched the surprising rich­ness of his voice. Press and Jackson were bathed in a pink camco light tor ten seconds of pure joy. Drum and Noose did not laugh. Noose didn’t even feel like laughing as he found himself almost succumb to the mystery that was Elvis.

Then Elvis joined the light and his deep voice asked all the right questions—“Do you take this woman,..Do you take this man….?”“In sickness and health…’’and finally, he came to “With this ring—’’and looked expectantly at Drum, who slid his hand from his pocket and handed the ring to Jackson—”1 thee wed.” Noose had heard it all twice before, at 8 and 13, but he was suddenly choked up with feelings of sadness and hope. Mope for himself? He would return Darlene’s car when lie got home—nor home. Maybe leave a note of apology but he’d omit the reason for the trip.

Jackson and Press gazed into each other’s eyes, more solemn than Noose had ever seen them, and they assured Elvis of their eternal loyalty and love.

“Now kiss your beautiful bride,” he told Jackson and in those three seconds Noose wanted to hold and kiss a girl just like that, but it wouldn’t happen tor another year. Then they received the final Elvis bles’sing as he declared they should “go our into the world as husband and wife.”

Magically Elvis’s guitar appeared again and he strummed the lead into “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” Doors opened at the end of die aisle.

The ceremony was over.

Jackson turned to leave, but Press hung back and patted Jackson’s arm before she let it go. Carefully, she separated one rose from her bouquet and held it out to Elvis. “Thank you,” she said.

Elvis looked startled, and then he had his first genuine expression of grace. He smiled, his own smile, and at that moment as he tucked the rose into his belt, Noose could imagine that he looked exactly like the young vulnerable Elvis that Press described, the Elvis who became a star and went to war and fell in love with his child bride.

He returned to strumming the opening bars of “I Can’t Help Fall­ing in Love With You,” apparently himself a little bit in love with Press.

Jackson shook first Drum’s hand and then Noose’s. More hugs. In an adjoining white room meant to efficiently collect them from the chapel where Elvis would soon perform again, they found their bottle of cham­pagne on Ice in a silver bucket. Standing beside it, already developed, was a white-framed photograph of the smiling couple, facing each other, an angelic Elvis in the center. Press picked it up and hugged it.

Drum pupped the cork and poured bubbles into four plastic glasses that Noose passed around. It was real. At the time.

Drum raised his glass in a toast “to the perfect wedding and the perfect bride and groom.”

Noose said, “Hear. I Icar.” When he was five he’d thought people were saying “Here. Here.” And he had looked around to locate “here.”Things change. But he was looking forward to being Zack again, bending with his sax, playing out a hard line in front of Bobby’s drums. Fifteen years later, after the new century was underway, after Noose’s own wedding on a Lake Erie beach, after Jackson and Press’s divorce, after Rvan Landry broke up Space Pussy and the Mats had a comeback tour, after Noose put his sax away for good, he sometimes thought about this trip. ITc remembered bis father’s news that he was leaving Darlene, that they would be moving out. Next came Drum’s announcement that Jackson needed to borrow a car. Noose remembered the names they chose, though only Press kept hers. And he remembered the four of them Standing on the rim of the South Canyon’s wall on the impromptu honeymoon, all of them unprepared for the grandeur of sheer copper rock, the distant silver ribbon of Bright Angel River, and the wide open sky.

Through the years that trip took on a meaning that Noose felt but didn’t examine. Maybe those days spent with Jackson and Press made him believe in the possibility oflovc. Maybe he saw that trip as an antidote to his father’s own multiple un-couplings that had left Noose also untethered to a place and family. Maybe he returned home more open to the unfolding of his teenage years and the mystery that was college and women. Tie still kept his CDs from the trip in a frayed black CD case.

Then one day, after those fifteen years, when Noose was in his lawyer’s office signing his own divorce papers, he was stung with a different memory from that trip. After the wedding at the Elvis Prcslev Chapel, they had indeed taken the honeymoon detour to the Grand Canyon. They had followed the South Rim for miles, then lie and Press had ended up sitting on a picnic table, waiting for Jackson and Drum who were oft booking a hotel for the night. With the Canyon’s wide skies growing a deep blue, he remembered that he had asked Press—and maybe it was only his shy self making conversation—lie had asked her why she had insisted on getting married by “Elvis” in Las Vegas. She had laughed and tossed her golden hair in wondrous amusement. “Ob Noose. Don’t you know? That way we won’t take it too seriously. Seriously.”



PAMELA PAINTER is the author of four story collections:  the award-winning  Getting to Know the Weather, The Long and Short of It, Ways to Spend the Night, and the Flash collection Wouldn’t You Like to Know.  She is co-author of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers.  Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Great Jones Street, Harper’s, Five Points,  SmokeLong Quarterly and ThreePenny Review, among others, and in the flash anthologies, Sudden Fiction, Flash Fiction, and Microfiction.  Painter’s flash stories are forthcoming in The Best Short Fiction of 2017 and New Micro Fiction 2018.  Painter has received grants from The Massachusetts Artists Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, has won three Pushcart Prizes and Agni Review’s The John Cheever Award for Fiction.  Her flash stories have been presented on National Public Radio, and on the YouTube channel, CRONOGEO. Her work has also been staged by WordTheatre who presented Painter’s stories in Los Angeles, London and New York.