Buzz’s Ma would swear on a stack of Bibles that she knew Elvis Presley for real. Perhaps it would take a sarsaparilla or two but soon she’d been tellin’ everyone how she and Elvis were as close as anyone could be.
Sometimes during one of her stories she’d just stop, look far away as if she was remembering something, have a chuckle to herself and then continue with the story.
I’d have given a week’s wages to know what she was thinking right there and then.
If you’ve been reading these little stories about me and Buzz, well you won’t need to walk too far to get to where I’m going with this one: yep, with all the talk Buzz decided that he was the love child of Elvis and his Ma.
“It makes sense. What with my good looks and talent and all. It’s the only explanation.”
Now I ain’t gonna rain on Buzz’s story and say he ain’t Elvis’ kid because nothin’ would surprise me about Buzz and his family, all I’m sayin’ is that you gotta take things like that - real careful, otherwise you get in a whole heap of trouble.
Even when I was walking along Main Street with him, he’d just stop, sneer then give out a ‘Uh-huh’ Elvis style followed by a ‘Thank you, you’ve been a wonderful audience, you really have’, which was followed by another sneer. Then he would just continue talking as if the last two minutes hadn’t happened.
Buzz decided that he would make some money from his birthright by touring the county as ‘The Son of Elvis’ . Two things were real wrong with this – for a start, Buzz can’t sing ,note a note, not even if a Colt 45 was pointed at where his brain is supposed to live, and the other thing is, no one in the county wanted to annoy Elvis’ family (or more accurately get sued).
One day, he asked if I would be his Colonel Tom Parker and manage him.
“For pee-forming,” he said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world for him. “People need to know that there is a new, younger Elvis out there.”
Now I swear, I didn’t say I would and I didn’t say I wouldn’t - but some people take sayin’ nothin’ as if you’ve said you would. Next thing I know Buzz is tellin’ everyone in town that I’m his new hotshot manager and that I’m gonna make him a rock n’ roll star.
“Only a matter of time,” he’d say. “What with your brains and my good looks and talent, not to mention my daddy being....”
He’d learned to shut up about Elvis, just in case they took Buzz off to jail. Okay maybe it was me that said he’d go to prison if he kept claimin’ he was the son of Elvis but sometimes, I swear you gotta be cruel to be kind.
Still, it didn’t really stop Buzz. He’d sit talking to strangers and say to them that he couldn’t really tell them who his daddy was, then he’d put his fingers to his lips , say ‘shh’, sneer, and then he’d do that awful Elvis impersonation.
I ain’t too sure that folks knew it was Elvis he was trying to impersonate, ‘cause I remember a couple walking away from Buzz and under his breath the man told his wife that Buzz was claiming to be the son of Bugs Bunny. Now that might not be too far from the truth, I tell ya.
At weekends, Buzz used to work as a bag boy at Winslow’s Grocery Store, the one that stands at the bottom of Creek Lane. He didn’t bag up like any normal person, oh no, what Buzz used to do was put everything in the bag while he stood in an Elvis pose: one knee bent , foot up with his toes touching the floor, and everything was placed in the bag with a full swing of the arm.
When he’d finished, he’d say ‘I thank you, my name is Buzz Presley and I’ll be here all week’. It used to scare some folks while it made others smile. Mrs Dalton gave him ten bucks ‘cause she thought he was touched. Her generation thought that a lot of people were touched. Hey, they might be right.
To be real honest, Mr Winslow was real pleased with Buzz and his packing ‘cause of the amount of extra folks that came for their groceries to his store. They all wanted their bags packed by the ‘crazy guy’. Annie Black who had packed bags at the store since the war used to spend her time just watching everyone queue up to get Buzz to do the packing. Mr Winslow let her go the second week in February.
Just before Easter, I heard tell from the Reverend about some Elvis show that was taking place two counties over.
“You know, I don’t approve of rock and rolly music,” said the Reverend. He always called it ‘rock and rolly’. “But it would be right and good if someone from this county went over there and whipped their asses.”
I was thinking that Reverends shouldn’t really talk like that but he did have a point. I just wasn’t sure if Buzz was the man to do it – that’s all.
“Where do I sign?” Asked Buzz when I told him.
“Don’t worry Buzz, I’ll take care of that, but what are you gonna sing?” I asked.
“Why, a song that my Daddy wrote for me,” said Buzz then went into a song that may or may not have been an Elvis song (or even just a song).
I filled out the form for him on account of the fact that Buzz was in hospital with something or other when Mrs Telford was teaching us all about writing and stuff.
I tried to talk him out of it, but he wasn’t having it and anyhoo maybe they wouldn’t put two and two together and make five, like Buzz had.
“Change that, I want Buzz Aaron Presley.”
So that was what I put down on the entry form and just kept my fingers crossed that we wouldn’t get into trouble.
Me and Buzz hitched over to Ridge County with Buzz dressed as Elvis (like if Elvis had fallen out of an aeroplane). The last bus we caught from Hollington was almost full of Elvis impersonators and their carers.
Buzz loved it, he was jumping from seat to seat, talkin’ and singin’ (kinda) with other hopefuls and some had stories to tell about Elvis. One or two had seen him drive past them, others had heard him singin’ but mostly these folks on the bus were just out for a good time and they didn’t care who knew about it.
When we got into town there must have been about a couple of hundred Elvises, I kid you not: big ones, fat ones, skinny ones, girls dressed (and ladies) as the King. They way I looked at it, what harm were any of them doing?
The following day the contest started at noon and it sure was a long time of Elvis this and Elvis that - all dressed with the best of clothes. Then Buzz came up onstage, and the announcer said that this singer was all the way from Duchess County and his name was Buzz Aaron Presley.
That would have been okay if Buzz had mimed to the record, like we practiced, but he decided to do an introduction – how many times can you say to someone that there should be no introduction? – Anyway he told the crowd exactly what I knew he was gonna say.
“I am the truly begotten son of Elvis Aaron Presley.”
Yep, I kid you not, that’s the way he said it alright, ‘the truly begotten son’ – what the h..., did that mean? There was a silence in the crowd as everyone’s jaws fell. Man, you could have heard a prison break twenty miles away. Then some kid at the back of the crowd shouted ‘I’m his son, too.’
“No you ain’t,” shouts Buzz.
“Sure am,” hollers back this kid.
“My Ma was real close to Elvis,” shouts Buzz.
“Well my Ma was Elvis.”
That’s what the weird kid at the back shouted. Everyone turned to look at him, then someone shouted ‘get him’ and the folks started chasing him. I took this opportunity to grab Buzz off the stage and force him to head for the bus station.
When we got back, Buzz Ma apologised and said she’d made a mistake it wasn’t Elvis Presley that she had been close to but Bob Hope.
Right there and then I could see a little light going on in Buzz’s head.
bobby stevenson 2013