St. Phil on land and in the air

Nashville. 1958.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol officer finishes filling in the form and hands the carbon copy to St. Phil. “You will need to appear in court at nine o’clock AM sharp Thursday morning. Bring your copy of the citation with you. You are not twenty-one, son, so we will be calling your parents. And drive slowly on your way outta here, you hear me?”

“Yessir, and I will. I promise you that,” St. Phil responds in his most humble tones. After the patrolman steps away, St. Phil turns to the bystanders. “Who’s riding with me?”

Three young men in their late teens step forward. Two sport pompadours marinated in Brylcream, one wears a crew cut constructed of one part human hair and one part Lucky Tiger Butch Hair Wax. Collectively, they wear about a pint of English Leather. 

St. Phil breathes a sigh of relief as they move to his car. He had heard that the Tennessee Highway Patrol sometimes impounded the cars of guys they caught drag racing, and he would not have liked to explain the contents of the duffel bag in the trunk of his Olds 88.

“Is your manager gonna be upset about the bad publicity?” asks the crewcut guy as he opens the front passenger door, thus claiming the coveted shotgun position.

“Not nearly as upset as Mama will be,” St. Phil responds, lighting his cigarette. “She’ll be in rare form.” 

A mile down the road, St. Phil applies the brake and puts the car in park. He gets out and motions for Mr. Lucky Tiger to slide across the seat and take the wheel. The newly designated driver waits for St. Phil to take the shotgun position, but St. Phil goes to the trunk and extracts the duffel bag, then leans in the open passenger side window.

“Go on into town and arrange for someone to follow you so you can leave the car at my house for me. I want to walk awhile.”

“You sure?”


But after the car is out of sight, St. Phil steps into the trees and dons robe, halo, and sandals. He stashes his shoes in the duffel bag, lights up a fresh Marlboro, and takes off. It’s a clear, cool, refreshing night. In two minutes he is above the Everly homestead, where he drops the bag into the shrubbery and quickly increases his altitude.

St. Phil is cautious about where he flies these days. Most local reports about a flying pompadoured Jesus have been chalked up to moonshine or marijuana usage, but St. Phil knows that discovery of his supernatural trait would be harder to explain away than a drag racing conviction. He has no audience in the sky tonight, but he smiles as though he is onstage in a packed theater, chuckling softly as he recalls how Ike and Margaret so fervently hoped he would “outgrow” his flying habit. It really was annoying that he had to be so careful. After all, now that they were rock and roll stars, Devil Don no longer had to explain the women and girls hanging around him.

After flying an hour or so, St. Phil begins to feel that he may as well go home and face Margaret. He’s out of cigarettes, for one thing. But as St. Phil reaches the house, he decides to delay a bit longer and sit for awhile on the roof.

Perhaps five minutes after he lands, a pack of Marlboros appears in his peripheral vision, dangling off a hook on a fishing rod. He eases the pack off the hook and finds a book of matches and a note bound to it with a rubber band.

The note reads: “You may want to stay up there for a while. Wesley and Mama are strategizing. Apparently, a couple hundred bucks will see to it that the cop got the name on the citation wrong. He should have written Bill Everett.” The note concludes with a cartoon of a policeman scratching his head and the initials DD.

Down on the ground, Devil Don hands Ike’s fishing rod to a waiting Handmaiden. A second Handmaiden reaches for the ladder, but Devil Don gives her a negative head shake.  “Too heavy,” he explains, and he carries the ladder to the garage before heading back inside the house, where Margaret is waiting for him.

“Oh, and aren’t you so special and smug! Can you even imagine how bad your poor brother feels? If you had ever gotten yourself arrested for something, even just once, this would not be so hard on my poor baby. And I know you smoke those marijuana cigarettes. I know you do! But do you have the decency to get arrested for it so that your poor brother would not have to feel like the family degenerate? No! Oh, no! You have to be Mr. Goody Two-Shoes! You are so inconsiderate. So unfeeling. It’s disgraceful. Oh, my poor baby.”

“I think maybe I’ll just go home to my wife, Mama.”

“I don’t know how that girl can stand living with someone so insensitive as you. Just what are going to do to help your poor brother feel better about this terrible thing that happened to him? Have you given it one minute’s thought? Don’t answer. I know you haven’t done anything. Oh, my poor baby.”

“Good night, Wesley.”

Devil Don goes to the kitchen to say goodnight to Ike, who is sitting at the table with a cup of hot chocolate and his guitar. “Hey, Donnie, did you find out if he won? I just bet he did”