Dear State of California: Please Approve My Application for Paid Family Leave as My Husband Elvis Is Now a Disembodied Head, by Patricia Grant

Dear State of California,

This is a personal statement to accompany my application for Paid Family Leave. Please understand, my husband is in need of round-the-clock care due to his severe disability. I have made peace with the fact that he is now without trunk and limbs and I no longer mourn the mangling, but I still plan to pursue legal action against Dirt Cheap Bargain Movers!

My decision to hire Dirt Cheap Bargain Movers!, a rag-tag crew of questionable legal status, came at far too high a price. Though Elvis has assured me that he feels no pain and, in fact, prefers life as a disembodied head, especially now that I have attached him to a wooden spoon and wave him about to simulate animation, I cannot believe that he is being entirely truthful with me. He cries in the night and blames it on “allergies,” but I know the real reason for his tears. His severed body, clothed only in his snug swim shorts from Blue Hawaii, lay somewhere in a cornfield in Iowa. It is now likely mildewed beyond recognition.

“A cornfield in Iowa” is only an approximation of my husband’s body’s final resting place. Dirt Cheap Bargain Movers! has not been forthcoming with information regarding the accident. I suspect this is at the advice of their legal counsel. For the purpose of closure, I took it upon myself to obtain transport logs from Denise in truck dispatch in exchange for a $25 Kohl’s gift card. According to the log, the driver, en route from our hometown of Oshkosh, WI to our new home of Fresno, CA, made an unexpected stop on the outskirts of Lincoln, NE to investigate a “weird flapping sound at the rear hatch.”

The driver’s account of what he found was taken over the radio and transcribed, but it is too gruesome to include here word for word. In short, the “weird flapping sound” was my husband’s tattered, windblown head caught in the improperly secured rear doors. At the time of this discovery, he was already sans body.

According to the log, it was the driver’s supposition that because my husband’s lightweight cardboard frame was unsecured — negligently so — in the cargo hold, he was sucked out the partially open doors. By luck, his head caught on the rear door and adhered firmly, but the sheer velocity of the interstate speed proved too powerful. His body was severed at his neck and lost forever on the high prairie winds. Elvis harbors no memory of the accident and this, I think, is a blessing.

I was offered little explanation when my husband was returned to me without a body. When I expressed my understandable horror, I was met with this heartless response, uttered by Frank, the head guy at Dirt Cheap Bargain Movers!:

“Lady, you got way bigger problems.”

I find this level of unprofessionalism unacceptable.

Elvis has adjusted well to his new life as a disembodied head, but he is nevertheless entirely reliant upon me to perform the simplest of daily tasks. He cannot feed, bathe, or ambulate himself without my assistance. Also, he can no longer wear his vast wardrobe of sassy vests I so lovingly crocheted for him, though I am hard at work re-fashioning the vests into a wardrobe of headbands of equal sassiness.

To add insult to injury, when we venture forth into the public sphere, such as Starbucks or the grocery store, we far too often encounter snickering, pointing, and the occasional cruel word. I can only assume this is because of my husband’s disability. It is an unfortunate reality that though our society has made great strides in curtailing its prejudices against the headless among us, we still have a long way to go when it comes to extending the same respect to the disembodied.

I have included this detailed personal statement to make the state fully aware of the extent of our hardship. It is my hope that it will be taken into consideration when reviewing my attached application for Paid Family Leave.

Thank you for your time,

Kathy (with a “K”) Presley

Patricia Grant aspires to be a serious writer, but stories like this keep coming out of her. Follow her on Twitter.

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