CHAPTER 3: ‘A “Hunka, Hunka” Trouble’

The story so far
A group of five tourists met in 2004 during Elvis Week in Memphis. A common bond formed with their love of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and All Things Cool. The bond didn’t stop there – the friends all were convinced Elvis is still alive. The five traveled to the birthplace of the great Elvis Presley and slowly started uncovering secrets – a secret that has Nigel Farnsworth dead.

Editor’s note: This 10-chapter serial began Sunday with Chapters 1 and 2 and concludes with the final two chapters on Aug. 16, the 32nd anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.

BY SHEENA BARNETT
Daily Journal
“‘Suspicious Minds’ – that’s his best song,” Greta Klaus said.
“Oh, come on, Greta,” Adam Chandler challenged. “His later work is great, but nowhere near as exciting as his early stuff.”
“Let her have her favorites, Adam,” Irma Jones said. “Besides, my favorite is ‘Devil in Disguise.’ It’s not on many top 10 lists, but it’s my personal favorite.”
“Yeah? Why’s that, Irma?” Adam asked, swigging back his beer.
“I don’t know,” Irma shrugged. “It has a lot of personality.”
Adam snorted. “Whatever. Bennett, man, back me up here.”
Bennett Stone shook his head. “What?” he asked.
“Man, you’re out of it,” Adam said. “What happened to you today?”
The tourists were gathered in the Stables Bar and Grill, enjoying the sweet air conditioning and a couple of drinks as the afternoon wound down. Bennett had been distant after his trip to the library.
“I don’t know, guys,” Bennett said, pulling himself toward their table. “I saw something today. It was probably nothing, but I keep thinking about it.”
“Tell us,” Irma said. “It could be something important.”
Bennett related what he’d seen just a couple of hours earlier: The director of the Lee County Library, Vonnie Wiggins, had given a package to someone driving an American-made SUV. As they all knew, the person who killed their fellow tourist Nigel was driving such a vehicle.
Irma shook her head. “Yeah, I don’t think I see a connection there, Bennett. That could’ve been anyone.”
Greta folded her arms on the table. “I think Irma’s right. He could’ve been delivering a special order. And who knows how many of those SUVs are in this area?”
Adam’s usual smirk was twisted into a frown. “I don’t know, guys,” he said. “What if there is a connection? What if Vonnie Wiggins knows who killed Nigel? It’s worth looking into.”
“But we don’t have time,” Irma protested. “We have so much work to do.”
“No worries,” Adam said. “I’ll see what Wiggins knows; you all go check on – what’s his name? The Web site guy?”
His three friends groaned.
“Bobby Winchester,” Bennett said.
“Yeah, him,” Adam said. “Drop me off at the library, and then come pick me up on your way back to the hotel. See if Winchester has any truth in his theories.”

Thirty minutes later, Greta, Irma and Bennett were sitting in Bobby Winchester’s living room in west Tupelo. Posters of the King were plastered all over the walls, and Elvis’ 1968 comeback special was playing on a small TV. A black cat skidded across the floor as Bobby led the tourists to his couch, which was half-covered with yellowing newspapers and magazines.
“Never mind Colonel Midnight,” said Bobby, plopping down in the chair in front of his computer.
Ask Bobby who he was, and he’d give the same answer every time: “Bobby Winchester, editor-in-chief of TheKingisAlive.net, the No. 1 Web site for Elvis sightings.”
He sported his usual uniform: a cheap black Elvis T-shirt, which clashed with his blue Elvis bandana, and khaki shorts. His mousy brown mustache wiggled as he went on about the number of hits his Web site had garnered.
“Bobby,” Greta interrupted, “the reason we’re here is that we read you have some evidence that …”
“That the King is alive!” Bobby shouted, blinking with every word.
“Well, something like that,” Irma said.
“I know what you’re thinking – that I’m crazy – but I’m not,” Bobby said, blinking behind his thick glasses. “I know what’s on the Web site, but those sightings aren’t him. Not him, you know? Just last week I found the proof.”
“What kind of proof?” Irma said, her eyes narrowing.
Bobby blinked.
“Real proof,” he said, turning to his computer.
Greta leaned into Irma. “I’m an Elvis fan, too, but this guy is taking it too far,” she whispered. “This is a wild goose chase.”
“Let’s hear what he has to say,” Irma whispered. “We all read what he said on his Web site, that he has undeniable proof that Elvis is alive. Even Nigel noted that he wanted to talk to Bobby. This guy could be on to something.”
“True fans know the truth,” said Bobby, blinking and giggling. “Pretty soon, you’ll know, too.”

Meanwhile, across town, Adam took a seat on the warm pavement in front of the Lee County Library.
He’d just been thrown out – almost literally – by Vonnie Wiggins.
“Well,” Adam said to himself as he put his iPod earbuds into his ears, “I guess I’ve got a story to tell the others.”

Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal