Ruth and Ellis in Las Vegas
By Dan McClenaghan
The short man in the purple tuxedo led Ruth and Ellis into the showroom, heading up into the rafters, the nosebleed section, his hand extended out behind him, fingers wiggling in expectation of the customary gratuity that would earn a better seat.
Ellis pulled a twenty out of his wallet and moved it toward the expectant fingers, but Ruth hit that twenty like a toad’s tongue hitting a fly. She crumpled the bill and stuck it in her cleavage. Then she grabbed the greedy tuxedo man’s hand and crushed it, bones grinding together as she said, “Think you could steer us in the direction of a better seating arrangement, knucklehead?”
“I believe that I can,” said the little man, his voice cracking with the pain of pulverized bones, as he led Ruth and Ellis to their stage-side seats.
A Marilyn Monroe look-a-like opened the show. She sang a song in a little girl voice, got her dress blown up by a phantom gust of wind. She giggled and cooed, and then she stepped out into the audience, looking for somebody middle-aged and paunchy, a benign soul to embarrass. She picked Ellis, pulled him up onto the stage to hoots and laughter, pushed him into a folding chair and sat down on his lap, kissed his bald head, and then slipped her tongue into his ear.
When she jumped up and said “Ouch!” in that little girl voice, as if she’d been pinched (the crowd always loved that part), Ellis took the initiative to give her goose, hard and deep, something he wouldn’t have done if he’d realized that she was a guy.
Marilyn, abandoning the girlish whisper for a resonant baritone, shouted, “YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” as she rubbed the area of the violation. Then she swung at him as he sat in his chair, but Ellis blocked the blow with a forearm, and he and the lady went over together, backwards, with Marilyn on top, her dress up around her arm pits.
The crowd loved it.
Except for Ruth.
She stalked through the orchestra pit, jumped up onto the stage, pulled Marilyn to her feet and grabbed a fistful of her hair, which came off. Then she wrestled her to the center of the stage for fisticuffs, as Ellis made his exit, stage right, where Elvis Presley and Liberace grabbed a hold of him for the security guards.
But the security guards were busy getting their asses kicked by Ruth, who had cold-cocked Norma Jean, and was now raining blows on her new assailants, to the opportunistic, improvisational accompaniment of the band and light man: cymbal crashes and white explosions for a solid head blow; bass drum thump and a burst of blue for a body punch; a tuba groan and a hundred criss-crossing thin red beams for a kick to the groin.
The crowd loved it all the more.
Ellis, meantime, tried to get a little wager going with his captors on the outcome, but Elvis said, “You kiddin’ partner? They’ll have to use a bazooka to bring that woman down,” and Liberace said, “Bet against her? My goodness gracious that woman’s a beast. Those poor boys don’t have a chance,” he concluded, as Ruth punched one of the security guy’s lights out, and the other two ran through the orchestra pit and up the aisle through the audience.
Then Ruth went on a search for her husband, Ellis the Gooseman.
About Dan McClenaghan:
I write stuff.
I began with my Ruth and Ellis/Clete and Juanita stories in the early 1980s. At the beginning of the new millennium I started writing reviews of jazz CDs, first at American Reporter, and then (and now) at All About Jazz. I’ve tried my hand at novels, without success.
I’ve been published in a bunch of small presses, most notably the now defunct Wormwood Review. This was in the pre-computer age, when we whomped up our stories on typewriters, then rolled down to Kinkos to make copies, which we stuck in manila envelopes, along with a return envelope with return postage attached. Times have changed.
Aside from the writing, I am married to the lovely Denise. We have three wonderful children and four (soon to be five) beautiful grandchildren; and I am a two-time winner—1970 and 1971—of the Oceanside Bodysurfing Contest. Kowabunga!
Photo credit: Naveen Narain via a Creative Commons Licence.