One of the men is simply handsomer than the others, under any circumstance, even in silhouette. He radiates a god-like warmth that is at once loving and sad. Loving, because love is his vocation. Sad, because sadness is his job. Even if you do not know about the Elvis, you would understand that the other men do not work for him so much as they work around him, that their livelihood is based on maintaining proximity.
But with this helicopter overhead, there is confusion. It makes a slow arc in the eastern sky for a return run.
Now the guns. Hard to control the horses. The helicopter dips, and from within several shots are fired from what appears to be a military weapon designed to delete small gatherings efficiently. The Elvis’s protectors have drawn handguns, but are mentally unprepared for assault from above. Before they can position themselves, every one of the horses collapses into bloody, suffering heaps. Screaming. Then not.
Two men are both shot and pinned under their beasts, as good as dead. Another is merely pinned, his hips crushed against a long angle of ragged stone that breached the desert crust a thousand years ago. The Elvis is unfettered, unwounded. He scrambles for his life, running back down the trail the way they’d come. The last man is doing his job, standing free and taking aim at the helicopter. The Elvis has just enough time to lose himself in brush.
Despite the urgency, he has a moment of doubt before he calls for help, awkwardly thumbing a cell phone he has barely learned to use. Who to call? Who wants him alive? He doesn’t know anyone anymore, except his family. Every time the Elvis thinks of his daughter, to whom he must not speak, he is overcome by equal measures of joy and grief, making him both holy and suicidal.
Which helps, in this case. He’s going to call someone he knows wants him dead, someone who has created an empire from his death, because at least that’s a fixed point from which to start the discussion. He’s calling the Man from the Record Company.