#56 In Roads-Gemini


Kelly is about 6’2” with piercing eyes and a dark beard that’s streaked with little slivers of grey here and there. He’s manned the counter at one of Portland’s state controlled liquor stores for 6 years since they opened. He’s chatty, funny and a really genuine guy. I muster my courage and march right up, put my hand out to shake hands and explain that I’d like to meet him. He likes that. His eyes sparkle as he gives a bow as says, “And so it should be. It’s nice to meet you.” He winks but doesn’t ask my name.

Back of Portland's Church of Elvis Identification card.
Back of Portland’s Church of Elvis Identification card.

I take out my camera and ask for his photo but he takes his hand back and tells me no. He doesn’t like his photograph taken so I leave. But I return. I like him and want to know him, but he makes me nervous and I run out of chitchat immediately. We play a game of interrogation in between his customers since there is a line formed halfway through the store.

“I’m younger than 50, older than 40,” is the coy answer to his age question. “Never been married, have no children, but my friends have kids and I have a niece so that’s enough. The most exciting place I’ve been is across a bridge from Canada to New York. It might seem boring to others but it was a really cool, really long bridge and I liked it.” I ask if he’s ever gotten vampires in the store. “Oh sure,” he shrugs. “We get them all the time, that’s normal. We even got Skeletor in once.” He seems proud of that part.

I ask for the native Portlander’s most iconic Portland experience recommendation and he immediately spits out, “Easy one. The 24-hour Church of Elvis.” Apparently you could get married on the sidewalk from a coin machine operated by pushing buttons on a cardboard box. You could even get a Portland ID and have your fortune told. I looked it up and the cool cult art experience closed last year.

I ask about any motorcycle experiences. “Rode one once and realized that I don’t trust people. I was on the back and it scared the total shit out of me. Never again.” He’s getting busy so I bid him farewell. I’m halfway to the door as he waves and adds, “By the way, I’m a Gemini.”



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