The Pearl River Excursion (Part 4)

When everyone had taken their seats, Harry invited Ewan to the pulpit. Ewan savoured every moment of his first address to the club committee, and Harry let him. Ewan began by explaining the clues that led him this time to one Aaron McAllister, then detailed his month-long surveillance mission. He described the traits the old man shared with Elvis: his playful smile, his love of karate (Mr. McAllister taught self-defence for seniors at the local community centre), and a penchant for peanut butter. When Ewan noticed his audience was becoming impatient, he produced the side-by-side comparison of the fingerprints and passed it around for all to see. A few people in the pews suddenly sat up and listened. 

“Did you speak to him?” asked Wayne. 

Ewan had spoken to Aaron McAllister. He told the committee of how he went to Mr. McAllister’s door pretending to be an insurance salesman, but the old man was not interested, and closed the door on him with a simple, “No thank you.” 

“What did he sound like?” asked Gene. 

“He was polite,” said Ewan. 

“No, I mean did he sound like Elvis?” 

“Oh, uh, he mostly just sounded like an old man. But you could tell it was Elvis. He had an aura about him.” 

“This is ridiculous,” said Jerry, standing up. 

“No, Jerry, wait,” said Wayne. 

“No Wayne. I’ve listened to a dozen of Ewan’s living Elvis theories, and they’ve all been absurd. This is no different. Except it has made a mockery of the club by being presented at a committee meeting. Harry, I’ll expect your resignation.” Jerry turned to leave. 

“One second, Jerry,” said Harry. He turned to Ewan. “All right, you’ve had your fun. Show them the photograph.” 

Everyone looked at Ewan. Even Jerry stopped. 

“Oh. Okay,” said Ewan. From underneath the letters and papers in his folder, he took the three photographs of Aaron McAllister. “Right,” he said. “So, I managed to get a few pictures of Elvis. I altered one of them to get a sense of—” 

“Just show them the one with the trash cans,” said Harry. 

Ewan nodded. He took the photo of old Aaron McAllister taking out his garbage and handed it to Brendon. Brendon stared at it closely. “Oh my—” he gasped. He looked up at Ewan and spluttered, “You… It’s… It’s really… It’s Elvis!” 

Wayne snatched the photograph from Brendon. Gene and Vince huddled around him and looked over his shoulder at the picture. They caught Wayne as he stumbled back, almost fainting. Vince started laughing. “It’s him, man! It’s the king!” 

The rest of the committee, aside from Jerry and Ronnie, swarmed upon the photograph, each member snatching for a glimpse of the old man in his pyjamas. And all it took was a glimpse to make believers of them all. Such excitement, such joy—nine elated souls jumping and singing and smiling in front of the pulpit. A tiny splinter of righteous indignation, or perhaps jealousy, stung deep within Ronnie’s pot belly. Never in all his years preaching had he witnessed such a revival. Vince, beaming with glee, grabbed Ronnie by the arm and shoved the photograph in his face. “Look Ronnie, it’s the king!” 

Ronnie took the picture and looked at it. He shook his head a little and shrugged. “It’s hard to tell.” 

“Are you serious?” said Vince. “It couldn’t be anyone else. Look at the eyes.” 

Ronnie squinted at the old man’s face. “Maybe I just don’t know Elvis as well as you do.” 

Vince snatched the photograph from him. “Unbelievable,” he said under his breath. He handed the photo to Jerry. “Here. See for yourself.” 

Jerry looked. He took his time, studying closely. Everyone watched him. He touched the image with his fingertips, and a single tear rolled down his cheek. He handed the picture back to Vince then walked over to Ewan and embraced him. “I’m sorry I doubted you,” he said. He turned and faced everybody. His eyes glistened and he smiled like a child on Christmas morning. “Elvis is alive!” he shouted. 

A huge cheer went up, rattling the nearby window frames of the little old building. Ishani made another round of coffees. 


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