Beyond the Kicked Bucket - Sacramento Old Timers Talk Afterlife
Randy Bechtel
Beyond the Kicked Bucket

Beyond the Kicked Bucket, an E-Book about life after death co-authored by Mark Elmer Ellis, Mark Elvis Ellis and Mark Elmo Elvis, is worth the price of the paper it’s printed on. So critics have raved and probably I would too should I ever read the thing. Unfortunately—or fortunately—I hadn’t time before I interviewed the authors as the substitute host for the Podcast “Not All Sacramentans Are Turkeynecks.”  The Podcast’s creator and usual host, my friend Eddie Mars, recruited me at the last second when, despite having been vaccinated five months ago, he mistook the effects of an jalapeño as coronavirus.

Below is a transcription of the program after I introduced myself and my guests. The questions I asked,were prepared by Eddie.

Gray Geezer: How did the three of you meet? It must have been serendipitous given that you all have the same first and last names.

Mark Elmo: Actually, we’re triplets. Our mother was heavily sedated when she named us.

Gray Geezer: Really! You’re clearly not identical.

Mark Elvis: We’re told that we all came from one egg fertilized by the sperm of three different men.

Gray Geezer: I suppose that explains Mark Elmer’s single eyelid fold.

Mark Elvis: And why Mark Elmo is 6’8,” I'm 5’10” and Mark Elmer is 5’1”. We had thought about branding ourselves as the Marks Brothers, but no one believes we’re brothers.

Mark Elmer: Hell, no one believes anyone who looks Asian can be named Elmer!

Gray Geezer:  Yes, well . . . Moving on . . .I understand that the three of you were celebrities even before your E-Book.

Mark Elmo: That’s true. One day we were retired bridge toll takers, the next day we were certified Old Timers by the Walter Brennan Institute.

Mark Elmer: Many are called but few prove worthy.

Gray Geezer:  For the benefit of those who might not know, tell us about Old Timer certification.

Mark Elvis: You need to pass one of three tests.  Which test is up to you. One option—the Floyd’s Challenge—is named for the barbershop on the “Andy Griffith Show.” To pass, you need to loiter in a barbershop every business hour for one week.

Mark Elmer: Try selling that idea to your barber! Mine is an old Korean bittie who said, “No way! Paying customers only! Be homeless somewhere else or I call cops!”

Gray Geezer:  A reasonable response.

Mark Elvis: Another test is the Prostate Challenge. You have to spend 24 hours in the waiting room of a hospital ER and have only 10 minutes total for bathroom breaks. I heard tell that one guy thought he’d cinch the test because he wore a catheter that drained into a plastic bag beneath his pantleg. Problem was he dozed off and people seeing his big bulge of piss thought he was unconscious from a fractured leg. Before he knew it, he was hauled off to an operating room.

Gray Geezer:  The best laid plans, eh? But I take it the three of you passed a third test.

Mark Elmer: Arguably the hardest test of all—the Gabby Hayes Challenge. One whole month in the Nevada desert with nothing but a mule, a pick, a jug of whiskey and a burlap bag of beans.

Mark Elvis: It changed our lives. Not only because of the adulation that comes with being a certified Old Timer. Our month in the desert also inspired Beyond the Kicked Bucket. Until then retirement had left all of us mentally lost. Toll-taking is a job that fosters dreaming about someday not taking tolls. It doesn’t foster dreaming about what you’ll do someday not taking tolls. Retire and suddenly you realize you’re worthless to society. You’re living only to consume.

Mark Elmo:  Which is why wives outlive their husbands. Retirement is a lot easier for women. I know women who believed all their lives that shopping is the meaning of life. But being only a consumer doesn’t work well for men—unless they’re golfers.

Mark Elvis:  Back to my point: To occupy your time, you find yourself answering questions. Some can only be answered speculatively, such as: Why do women wear earrings? Others can be answered factually, such as: Has an English aristocrat ever lived in a trailer park? Then there are those that can be answered quantitively, such as—

Mark Elmo: If you’re on the game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” which door should you pick—one, two or three—to win the Big Deal? For six months I kept a tally and found that the Big Deal was behind door one most of all, followed by two and then three, which ran a distant third. And yet, door three was the one picked most, contestants always calling it their “lucky number.” The thing is, you didn’t need to keep a tally to figure out door three was a bust. Just watch the show people!—which you’d think contestants do. Which leaves only one explanation: they have the memories of goldfish!

Mark Elmer: Which begs the question: So what?

Gray Geezer: Yes, I’m afraid I’m missing the point.

Mark Elvis:  So what? is the point! Mark Elmo spent six months to arrive at an answer that was meaningless. In the desert, we put our heads together and realized the answers to all our questions were meaningless. Then came our epiphany: the reason our answers were meaningless was that the questions we asked were stupid.

Mark Elmer: We thought: Time to think of a question whose answer would be meaningful. First, we considered answering: What is the meaning of life? But then Mark Elvis said he thought that question had been taken. Then Mark Elmo said: “What about the meaning of the afterlife?”

Mark Elmo: I did say that!

Gray Geezer:  Amazing. Although I’m sure many of our listeners are wondering: Where does one begin to answer a question like that?

Mark Elvis: Dean Martin.

Gray Geezer: Dean Martin? As in Dean Martin of the Rat Pack?

Mark Elvis:  Maybe because we were in Nevada I found myself thinking about Dean Martin. Although maybe it was the whiskey I was drinking. Anyway, I remembered Dean Martin saying that if it weren’t for booze, getting up in the morning would be the best he’d feel all day. I remember I snapped my fingers and said, “That’s right! How depressed we’d be if we didn’t have a body to put booze and dope and pizza in!”

Mark Elmo:  Who wants to be just a spirit if you can’t get high? If you can’t pig out? If you can’t beat off? I’m quoted saying that—right in the E-Book.

Geezer: Amazing. But where does this lead?

Mark Elvis:  Back to the roots of Christianity and the funeral passage: “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body . . .” In other words, Christianity for almost 2,000 years made no distinction between body and soul. Resurrection would involve our bodies being reconstituted and brought back to life.

Mark Elmer:  Which means people are being spiritual wanting amazing hair, a flawless complexion, straight teeth—

Mark Elmo: Big boobs!

Gray Geezer:  And yet your E-book comes to the opposite conclusion.

Mark Elmo:  It does?

Mark Elvis:  Yes Mark Elmo, it does.

Mark Elmo: Even about booze and boobs?

Mark Elvis:  The reason is this: The dead can’t be conscious if they must exist as earth, dust and ashes waiting for the Resurrection. So what happens when everyone is resurrected all at once? Everyone’s last memory will be the moment before death, which can only lead to mass chaos. How could I possibly relate to some medieval woodcutter who looks like Danny DeVito, speaks Franconian, has never been farther than 10 miles from his village, and thinks the world is flat? People alive today have enough trouble getting along without being subjected to dickwads like that!

life after death

Gray Geezer: Which brings us to the surprising ending of your E-Book. Do you want to give our readers a hint, or keep the ending a surprise?

Mark Elmo: I’d like a hint.

Msrk Elvis: We believe the body and the soul are separate entities. Yes, the body gives us certain pleasures. But there is something beyond pleasure that comes with the light people who’ve been near death say they were irresistibly drawn to. Our bodies are what give us a sense of individuality—a sense, we believe, that is false. People go through life thinking they’re individuals largely because they inhabit the same bodies in the physical world. Even then, who really at 60 is the same person he or she was at 30? And even if you persist in believing in your individuality, how could you remain that individual throughout eternity? The one constant in the universe is that everything changes. Individuality is an illusion. When the soul goes to the light, it becomes one again with its source. 

Mark Elmer:  No life lasts forever. Dead men rise up never. But even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea.

Mark Elmo: So we need to get our buzzes on while we’re alive! Is that what all this means?

Gray Geezer:  A moral for all of us, Mark Elmo. And there you have it listeners—pure “Not All Sacramentans Are Turkeynecks” gold!

Copyright © 2021 by Randy Bechtel

Return to Top


Email Randy Bechtel at