The Pearl River Excursion (Part 11)

Harry snatched the phone from the elderly man and crunched it back into the cradle on the wall. “What are you doing? Who were you talking to? Wait—was that Ronnie?”

Mr. McAllister looked confused. He stepped back.

“That dirty rotten…” Harry rubbed his face and blinked hard. When he opened his eyes, Mr. McAllister was inching toward the back door. He grabbed the old man by the arm and led him into the living room. “Here, sit down,” he said, forcing him into an armchair. Harry cleared some space on the coffee table and sat down on it, directly in front of Mr. McAllister. He leaned in and looked the old man in the eye, waving his gun in disapproval. “You shouldn’t be speaking to Ronnie.”

“I don’t know who Ronnie is,” said Mr. McAllister.

Harry leaned back. “He’s a rotten traitor, that’s who he is.” He looked down and shook his head. “We let him join the club, and it turned out all this time he never even liked you.” Harry looked at the frightened old man and gave a slight smile. “That’s right,” he said, “I know your secret.”

“My secret?”

“I know who you really are.”

“I… I don’t know what you mean,” said Mr. McAllister. “I think you might have the wrong person.”

Harry chucked. “You can drop the act. And you don’t have to worry—your secret is safe with me. In fact,” he said, looking at his gun, “that’s why I’m here.”

“Look,” said Mr. McAllister, “I… I don’t have much, but you can take what you like. It’s nothing, really. Help yourself. But please let me go. I won’t give you any trouble.”

Harry shook his head. “Now that’s not true.” He wagged his gun at Mr. McAllister. “I know about your Twitter.”

Mr. McAllister looked at him.

“Yeah, that’s right,” said Harry. “I can’t tell you how disappointed I was. First, I find out you’re still alive, and then all of a sudden, there’s your Twitter account.” Harry sighed. “I really didn’t want it to be this way, but you understand, don’t you? You’ll get us all cancelled. And a world without your music?  Well… that’s just not right, you know? It’s too sad to imagine.” He straightened himself and nodded. “I won’t let it come to that.” He leveled his gun.

“No, please,” said Mr. McAllister. “Please. You don’t have to do this.”

“I do,” said Harry. “It’s the only way.” He chewed his lip and tapped his foot. “I… I just want you to know what a huge fan I am… Your music changed my life.” He laughed. “You know, over the years I must have spent thirty grand on jumpsuits. I bought your guitar too—well, not your guitar, but the same model you used.” He leaned in and whispered, “I want you to know we’ll always remember you the way you were.”

“I… I think…” stammered Mr. McAllister.

Harry’s eyes widened. “Wait! I have an idea. I mean, if you wouldn’t mind…?” He stared at his captive.

“Uh… Well, if you put the gun away, I’m sure we can—”

“Could I sing a song with you?” said Harry. “I know you probably get that all the time—well, not since 1977, right? But I’m actually a good singer, so it won’t be awkward. You can ask anyone from the club, I really can sing. Not as good as you, obviously, but… What do you think? Could we sing together?”

Mr. McAllister’s jaw hung open. “Uh… uh… Yes. Yes, of course,” he said, shifting forward in his seat. “We could sing a song. Whatever you like. I don’t know a lot of new music, but I’ll do my best.”

“New music? Ha!” Harry slapped the old man’s knee. “I want to sing one of your songs.”

My songs?” said Mr. McAllister. He rubbed his knee.

Harry looked at the ceiling and tapped the loaded gun against his chin as he thought. His eyes lit up. “‘Suspicious Minds.’ I want to sing ‘Suspicious Minds.’”

“‘Suspicious Minds’?”

“Oh, unless… Unless you’re sick of that one. I know you’ve probably sung it a thousand times. It’s just such a great song.”

The old man paused a moment then shook his head. “If you want that song, we can sing that one. Uh… maybe you could start, and I’ll follow.”

Harry leaned back. “Oh wow.” He bowed his head a little. “It would be my honour.”


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