Uh, huh, huh?
Alvin Pratt was so convinced that Elvis was still alive he was determined to track him down.That he did so wearing the full gear and a lop-sided sneer, rather detracted from any credibility he might have carried, but Alvin was never one for short measures – except when dispensing drinks in the pub he ran with his wife, Effie. Effie supported Alvin completely in his obsession, for she was a staunch admirer of Joan of Arc herself, and looked forward to the day when the maiden saint walked into her bar to be treated to a glass of vin oridinaire and a chat about Ye Olde Tymes. She also believed in miracles more fervently than Alvin but then, Effie was a raving nutter. All in all, evenings spent at 'The King’s Bonfire' had an other-wordly appeal that made the work-a-day world appear to suspend itself from the ceiling flubbing its lips. The regulars took it all in good part, largely because Effie had a cleavage you could fall into and kept jiggling out of the 15th century bodice she habitually wore, when she bent over to wash the glasses.
Alvin took his obsession to the point of absurdity, to the extent of writing extensive letters to ‘The Times’ (none of which were ever published). Once the word got around Fleet Street, however, the gutter press absolutely revelled in publicising their idiosyncrasies, but it was Effie’s glass washing technique, rather than Alvin’s prowess with the scowl and pelvic thrust, that caught the nation’s imagination. Soon, every ersatz Elvis in the country was rocking his obsessive way to ‘The King’s Bonfire’, and rolling their unsteady way out again replete to the quiff with beer and boobs.
It was this timely exposure that led to Alvin’s brainwave. If, he thought, he went for the world-record gathering of Elvis look-alikes at the pub, then it would be bound to attract the real one, for The King was known to love a good party. Effie was not averse to that, for Alvin’s pelvic thrusts had been confined to the mirror for some time, and the virgin martyr was beginning to feel the part in both senses of the words: if a few stray pelvic thrusts from the gathered hopefuls could be persuaded to sway her way, so much the better.
And so a date was set.
To the sorrow of the regulars, Effie was not much in evidence that night courtesy of Dafydd ap “Pelvis” Williams from Pant-y-Glas. In real life Dafydd was a shepherd. Consequently, with only the sheep to pass criticism, he had ample opportunity to perfect his pelvic thrust ... away from public gaze ... with a jar of lubri... er ... ahem! Anyway, Dafydd’s pelvic thrust was renowned from hill to valley. It was this reputation that had him dragged to Effie’s boudoir quicker than he could say ‘all shook up then, isn’t it?’ and had him just as quickly shoot back down again rhinestones jangling, and muttering darkly, ’my mam warned me about women like ’er, look you. Tie ’er to a post and set fire to ...? I ’ave never ’eard the like I ’aven’t. It’s just wicked perversion it is. You can tell she’s not Chapel,” he said irately to another Elvis. "I’m back off ’ome again to Wales, I am,” he said, and snake-hipped his way to the door, leaving the other ersatz Elvis looking bemusedly after him.
Upstairs, Effie was in ecstasy. Dafydd’s parting shot of 'I ’ope you burn in ‘ell, you wicked trollop!’ as he backed out of the door had hit a spot that nothing else but spontaneous combustion might reach. Being bound and gagged and lashed to the standard lamp only heightened the perception, and Effie’s only regret was that she had not thought to wear her chain-mail vest. Only when she came to struggle free did she realise that to choose as persecutor a shepherd whose only other obsession, apart from sheep and Elvis, was tying knots in baling twine, might perhaps have been a little misguided: but even saints make mistakes – one of the fatal appurtenances of sainthood, some might say.
Meanwhile, Alvin watched Dafydd ap ‘Pelvis’ Williams gyrate from the bar with a puzzled expression on his face - ‘What the bleedin’ hell is he on about?’ the expression clearly said, and, ‘you don’t half get some funny buggers about’ - and returned to the party.
The pub was awash with a sea of slick-haired Elvises. The regulars had crowded into a corner agog at the spectacle, all thought of getting a few glasses washed forgotten. Elvises flourished combs like six-guns, Elvises smouldered moodily in corners, and there was even one globular Elvis who had taken the dream one stage beyond by clutching a fried jam sandwich in each hand, and drip-feeding uppers from a tube: but, then, you expect the odd eccentric at this sort of a do. But of the real Elvis, there was no sign. Alvin was sure he would know him when he showed. There was no mistaking that curled lip, the hunched shoulder, the swivelled hip ... if the King showed tonight, Alvin’s life would be complete. He flicked his quiff, loosened his hips and dived back into the fray, leaving the hired help to handle the bar.
Effie could have done with some help herself. She had almost succeeded in yanking the plug from the wall by twirling laboriously on the spot hoping the tension would pop it out. The only trouble was, the flex bound her feet even further and she fell over, finishing up with the business end of the standard lamp and its lit 100 watt bulb wedged against the curtains, with her depending from the stem like a deshabillé figure-head with a rigging problem. ‘Mmmmmmpphfffkk!’ she said, with some vigour. “Mmmmppphking mmppell!” In Mediaeval French, the sentiment would probably have meant much the same as the honest Anglo-Saxon that was swallowed by the gag.
Swaying pendulously, she hung there, her breasts living a life of their own, and raged inwardly against all phony Elvises. The curtains were a pretty shade of beige, but very filmy. Not that Effie was in any position to look at much except the stain on the carpet made by Dafydd ‘Pelvis’ Williams when he had dropped his drink at her inflammatory suggestion. But she could smell. And what she smelled now was like ambrosia to her starved soul. On the other hand it also made her want to run like buggery, which she couldn’t, being trussed like a turkey about to be popped into the oven. As the first tendrils of smoke wafted down, Effie’s first thought was 'Allelujah!' Her next, following immediately, was “Ohf sfhipb! Gepbh be awpfh uh ere!” The act of verbalization, hampered though it was by half-a-pound of cotton-wool stuffed into her mouth, snapped her back into what passed for reality. Demonstrating a superhuman capability possessed only by the sanctified and the mad, she snapped Dafydd’s super-double sheep-shank, unburdened herself of the lamp and gag, and fled downstairs with her hair smouldering.
Faced with the vision of a screaming, naked woman with her hair on fire and a chest-full of brown-nosed puppies apparently fighting to escape her clutching arms, many of the Elvis wannabees paused in mid-gyration. The competitor performing on stage actually rammed the mike he was using into his mouth in shock, sending a quartet of gender-bending groupies into paroxysms of confused delight.
Alvin, disturbed from his predatory quest amongst the clientele, paused and looked up – a relief for the clientele who had, all evening, been uncomfortably aware of a small man prowling the bar who would suddenly light on one of them, stare intently at his face for a minute or two, and then move off without a word to stare at another. "Effie!” he yelled, scandalized at such a wanton show of naked flesh.
Effie responded by throwing her arms wide and shouting “Fire!Fire! Fire!” The puppies, released from her clutching grasp immediately started fighting amongst themselves, until it became clear to one interested spectator what it was that had just been liberated, causing him to return to his gyrations with even more urgency in order to hold onto some semblance of normality.
Waving her hands above her head and trailing smoke, Effie led the charge from the bar, as reality exuded its ugly, fume-filled breath and smoke and flames belched down the stairs. A stampede of Elvises followed, Alvin amongst them still, disconcertingly, trying to clock the one and only.
Later, as the last of the disappointed Elvises hipped and bucked their respective ways home, Alvin and Effie stood disconsolately in the square, watching the 'King’s Bonfire' light up the sky like a nightmare in Las Vegas. Effie sniffed and wiped a tear on the sleeve of a borrowed raincoat. “I’ve finished with Joan of Arc for good,” she avowed. “I never really believed it anyway.”
Alvin patted her arm absently. “You gotta believe in somethin’ babe,” he drawled sadly, and gave a half-hearted hip swivel. Then, he felt a tug at his elbow.
’ Uh, ’scuse me, sir?” said a diffident brown voice. “Y’all know whar ah c’n find this Presley lookalike contest? Ah’m kinda late ... uh, huh?”
Alvin looked at the burning building, then scathingly at the newcomer and back at Effie. He took her by the arm. "Oh, piss off mate!" he said, and led her away.
The newcomer watched the ill-assorted couple trudge away ."Uh, huh huh," he said, around a lop-sided leer, flipped a finger to his quiff, shrugged, and melted back into the darkness humming softly. The tune reached Alvin faintly. It sounded suspiciously like ‘His Latest Flame’.
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