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Brian was the best Elvis impersonator in the business. The crowd were eating out of his hand. He launched into his last song, confident of a standing ovation and encore. It was an old Elvis favorite, An American Trilogy.
Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten.
Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land!
In Dixie’s Land, where I was born in,
Early on one frosty mornin’.
Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land!
Just then a pair of knickers hit him slam dunk in the mush, and Brian woke up on the hard wooden floor of his traditional canal barge, aptly named Memphis, berthed in Castlefield basin, a former industrial site from the start of the industrial revolution, but now an inner city conservation area in the centre of Manchester. It is the United Kingdom’s first designated Urban Heritage Park. Brian lived on the boat when he was in town.
He had an aching head having had a skinful the night before after his performance at a local venue, supporting a young up and coming rock band. Jake the bass player was clearly off his head on the latest type of roll-up cigarette and had insisted he share a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey with him at the band’s hotel. He’d gone along hoping to find some mature female, who liked Elvis, that he would have a chance of pulling. No such luck, the girls were all young and one actually called him pops! He drank too much and later crawled away back to his canal barge.
Something had caused to him to fall out of his bunk in the middle of the night, but he had been too drunk to care. It would wait until morning. Eventually surfacing at 9: 30 a.m. to the sound of rain pounding on the roof of the boat he staggered to the galley, still dressed in his Elvis outfit, but minus the wig, his bald pate shining in the light from the overhead strip light. He took a slug of water and filled the kettle to make coffee.
Needing some air he walked to the rear of the boat and pushed open the top half of the stable type door, which was surprisingly, unlocked. He was shocked to find what appeared to be the lifeless body of Jake the drummer his new best mate from the night before, slumped half over the back of the boat, still clutching an empty bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey.
‘What the f***k’ he exclaimed, as he fell backwards into the galley, further exacerbating his hangover. Rubbing his throbbing head, he rose from the floor and climbing slowly up the steps he opened the lower half of the door and tentatively tiptoed his way up the three steps and over to Jake. He prodded him in the chest and Jake immediately slid down onto the deck, confirmation that he was in fact no longer of this world. Brian’s reaction was to vomit over the side of the boat onto the towpath, right in front in front of a young lady jogger who had been in her own world listening to music through purple earphones. Alarmed she halted and shouted an expletive disgusting! Brian did not help himself at this point, merely turning his head to stare at the body lying on the deck of his precious boat. Guided by his action, the woman followed his gaze and seeing the body, screamed in shock and set off at a sprint back to the street from where she had gained access to the towpath, just a minute before.
Seeing a traffic warden and obviously still in a state of shock, she mistook the uniform as that of a community support police officer.
Grabbing the young man by the arm Stacy shouted,
‘There’s a man been murdered, back there on the canal.’
‘Are you sure he’s dead?’ Mick, the young officer questioned.
‘Well he looks bloody dead to me,’ Stacy insisted, and the man on the boat who was sick didn’t look much better either, aren’t you going to call it in then?’ she added.
Mick, immediately realising her error, advised.
‘I’m not a policeman, I’m a traffic warden.’
‘Oh, Oh, I see,’ Stacy accepted, ‘I’ve got a mobile,’ she said rummaging in her small backpack, ‘shouldn’t we ring the police or something?’
By now the chauvinistic Mick was feeling in charge and looking to impress.
‘Lest just go and have a closer look, shall we?’ he said, giving him the opportunity to take hold of Stacy’s hand and gently lead her back towards the canal.
Approaching the steps down onto the towpath, Stacy stiffened and became reluctant to proceed any further.
‘I’m not sure this is a good idea,’ she said, ‘what if that bloke on the boat is dangerous?’
‘Let’s just have a look,’ Jason encouraged, starting down the steps. Halfway down the barge was clearly in view, with a body lying on the deck.
Proceeding cautiously the duo approached the barge to find a man in an Elvis costume sat next to the body with his head in his hands and moaning. It was not an Elvis number, nor was it Brian’s best performance.
The duo paused a moment before Mick summoned up enough courage to ask.
‘Excuse me, can we be of any assistance?’
‘He was just lying there, when I opened the door five minutes ago,’ a clearly distressed Brian replied.
The duo stepped on to the boat and Mick felt for a pulse in the man’s neck.
‘He’s definitely dead,’ he announced sombrely. ‘Oh shit! Wait a minute I think that’s blood on the deck behind him’
‘And his head’s bashed in,’ Stacy shrieked.
‘I didn’t do it, I didn’t see the blood or his bashed head,’ Brian moaned, ‘honest.’
‘That’s cos you’re still pissed mate,’ Mick castigated.
‘Hadn’t we better call the police?’ Stacy choked, now on the verge of tears.
‘Yes, I’ll do it now, we’d better not touch anything, and perhaps if you could make us and Mr Elvis here a cup of tea.’
‘My name is really Brian, Elvis (Brian) advised sheepishly.
‘I’ll make the tea then, Stacy confirmed,’ gladly moving off down into the cabin.
Five minutes later, sat around the small table in the kitchen area of the boat clutching mugs of steaming tea protectively, Stacy asked.
‘Did they say how long they would be?’
‘As fast as they could,’ Mick advised, Said we should wait around.’
‘But I’ll be late for work,’
‘You won’t find a better excuse,’ Mick observed. Want News by email Contact