The two Immortals sit on their golden thrones, watching the 52nd
Grammy Awards. A full moon hangs between them, and the CBS satellites fly close at hand. So the reception on heaven’s live Blu-ray is crystal.
The King of Rock — in black suede jumpsuit and Captain Marvel thunderbolt cape — smokes a Roi-Tan blunt, blowing plumes across the stratosphere. He holds a .44 magnum.
The King of Pop — in mascara, military brocade and single white sequin glove — sips a Pepsi while shielding himself from the lunar rays with an "ET" umbrella. He holds a squirt gun.
“Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Celine, Smokey!” he cries as the stars take the stage far far below at the Staples Center in the City of Angels. “I love you guys!”
Tonight is the night of nights: his Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Back in ’71 — now that was a goddamn Lifetime,” grumbles his rival. “And I was only 36 — and above ground!” He turns to the ghost perched behind him. “Ain’t that right, Lee?”
Mr. Showmanship himself, Liberace, in his diamonds and ostrich boa, outshines even the royalty tonight. “Don’t be a party poop, E,” he teases his old Vegas co-star. “This is Michael’s night.” He lays a bejeweled hand on the haloed head. “Enjoy sweetheart!”
“I love you, Lee,” coos the King of Pop. “Forever.”
“'Chopsticks,' 'Stella by Starlight' and 'Jesu Bambino' break my heart every goddamn time,” Elvis grouses. “And what’d you get for it, Queenie? The goddamn Golden Mike in '81.
“Triffles, dear boy. Triffles,” laughs the Lord’s pianist. “I cried all the way to the bank. And now my reward is rich in heaven.”
“You’re so sweet, Lee,” Michael tells him. “I’m sharing tonight with you — this is our award.”
Elvis scowls at the other late-great Lifers on the edge of their seats in the celestial gallery: James, the King of Soul; Marvin, the Prince of Motown; Frank, the Chairman of the Board himself. “I didn’t score this many dancers for my freakin 'Aloha' comeback — seen by 1 billion,” he tells them. “How ‘bout you fellas?”
Sinatra gives Elvis a shrug; James and Marvin give him the finger. Michael giggles and blows them a breathy kiss.
“Where the hell’s Moe and that deaf sonofabitch?” demands Elvis, scanning the opera boxes above for Mozart and Beethoven.
“The poor dears don’t watch award shows,” Liberace reminds him.
“No frickin wonder,” he grumbles. “What’d they ever get for their trouble — the flu, the clap and a couple unmarked graves.”
“Ssssh ! My Earth Song!” cries Michael in his Target 3D aviator shades. As his holograph explodes on heaven’s video screen in the midst of world devastation, he harmonizes with Smokey and Usher. Behind him, Marvin sings mercy mercy me.
Elvis blasts the TV with his .44. Michael puts out the fire with his squirt gun. Elvis begins to moan 'Heartbreak Hotel.' His rival’s 'Earth Song' apotheosis in L.A. is longest eight minutes of the King’s afterlife.
“Hey, what about yesterday?” Michael weeps to the heavens. “What about the seas? The heavens are falling down …”
After the apocalyptic chorus, his visibly shaken predecessor downs some vitamin E, collects himself, then gets down to business, “How many records you sell, boy?”
100 million for "Thriller" alone, Michael boasts. Elvis counters with his own 1 billion, for 150 albums. Michael lists his 17 number-one singles, his 15 Grammys, his 26 American Music Awards, and his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Elvis ups the ante with his three Hall of Fames — rock, country and soul — plus his two memorial U.S. postage stamps.
Michael parries with his own King Sani stamp in the works, commemorating his ’92 African coronation.
The homegrown King now sees he has to play trump on the upstart. “How about your curtain call?” he demands. “You get 80,000 fans, 17 white Cadillacs, 5 tons of FTD, and a personal note from the president?”
“President — yes,” says Mike. “80,000 — no. I got 31 million.”
“That’s frickin TV!” protests Elvis. “My kin – they don’t go in for circuses. Mine was a private, family affair down at Graceland.”
Michael turns his back on him, to the first of his Grammy eulogies now. Refusing to be ignored, Elvis asks the honoree if anybody has tried to rob his grave yet? If anybody has spotted him in a shopping mall yet? If he’s got his own church like Elvis the Divine yet?”
Michael cranks up the volume on the Grammys.
“The Queen shot your ass down for a knighthood, and the Pope wouldn’t even sell you his appendix for 500 G’s,” Elvis presses on, smelling blood on the dance floor. “But did you learn a little humility? A little r-e-s-p-e-c-t for your elders? Oh, no. You had that self-portrait painted with your ‘equals’ — Washington, Lincoln, Einstein, ET – all of you wearing that freakin glove.”
Michael tugs on Liberace’s cape, whimpering. “Tell him to stop being so mean, Lee. Why is he bullying me? I’m a lover, not a fighter!”
“Damn, boy — you call that bad?” Elvis snorts. He leaps onto a passing cloud. “You wanna see bad, wanna see dangerous?”
The King of Rock performs a karate ballet, dispatching meteors and asteroids.
Taking the challenge, the King of Pop dances the moon, pirouetting, shimmeying, and spooning his golden crotch.
After the kings return to their thrones, Mr. Showmanship places a hand on each shoulder. “What say we kiss, make up, and share the throne now – since you are father and son.”
Neither superstar budges. “Come on, E, give your son-in-law a Hollywood smooch,” whispers Lee. “Pretend he’s Ann-Margret — it’s not such a stretch.”
Lip curled, Elvis glares at his old Vegas partner. “Billie Jean ain’t my son-in-law.”
The pianist gives him a wink. “When he and Lisa Marie sealed it with a kiss, I could have sworn that thunder I heard in Graceland was you rolling in your grave.”
“I wanted to have a séance to ask you for her hand, but Lisa said no,” adds Michael. “It broke my heart when she filed for divorce. But I never laid a hand on her – our love was too special for that.”
“Thank God for little boys,” mumbles his father-in-law.
“Priscilla was little when you took her to Graceland,” Michael reminds him.
”Not a day under 14, and I put her right in Immaculate Conception with the nuns. While I was out on the coast doing movies — not playing Peter Pansy in some Never Neverland.”
Elvis pulls his Captain Marvel cape around him huffily. ”What you need to do, boy, is grow up if you wanna be a real king!”
“Like Billy Shazam, ‘the most powerful boy in the world'?” ventures Liberace, speaking of Marvel’s alter-ego.
“That’s different!” snaps the King. “Marvel — he’s a Takin Care a’ Business crime stopper.”
“The strength of Hercules, the speed of Mercury, and the power of Zeus!” exclaims Mr. Showmanship.
Suddenly the trumpets of the angels sound, the heavens open, and the King of Kings himself appears in all his glory interrupting the grousing and the 52nd Grammys. Lee hurries to his piano and plays "Jesu Bambino"; Elvis falls to his knees, crooning "How Great Thou Art"; Michael lip-syncs "Heal the World."
Jesus taps his sandal to the beat of the trio, then raises his hand. Silence falls over paradise. The King of Kings gazes deep into the eyes of the King of Rock, the King of Pop, the Godfather of Soul, the Chairman of the Board and all the other Immortals. Then he smiles. And he raises two fingers.
Suddenly Michael jumps into the open arms of Elvis, Lee squeezes them in a rapturous hug, and the others hurry around the single throne. All together at last, their voices rise to the heavens in celestial harmony with those of the 52nd Grammy stars …
We are the otherworld, we are the children.
We are the ones who make a brighter day.
We are all a part of God's great big family.
And the truth, you know love is all we need.