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Excerpt

Elvis and the Tropical Double Trouble by Peggy Webb

Elvis’ Opinion # 1 on the Valentines, Manicures, and Mooreville’s Royalty

Ever since I used my famous nose to crack the Memphis Mambo Murder Case, things have gone to the dogs around here. And I don’t mean to a musical genius in a basset hound suit, either. (That would be yours truly.)

To hear my human mom tell it (that would be Callie Valentine Jones, owner of the best little beauty shop this side of the Mason Dixon Line), life just couldn’t get any better. She thinks she’s happy since she said “The Last Farewell” to Jack (my human daddy) up in Memphis, but I know better. When she’s not giving New York hairdos to Mooreville’s finest and doling out the dough for her mama’s little gambling escapades – and every other kind of escapade Ruby Nell Valentine can think of – she’s sitting on the front porch swing with a faraway look in her eyes that says, “Stuck on You.”

Listen, I know she believes Jack is finally going to give her a divorce so she can have her heart’s desire with somebody who won’t spend more time in the world’s underbelly avoiding bullets than he does in the gazebo with Callie and her “Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hounddog” best friend. (I’m not even going to talk about Hoyt, that ridiculous cocker spaniel pretender to my throne, and the seven silly cats who took up residence with us when Callie rescued them and dragged them home.)

Believe me, Jack’s face said it all when Callie and the rest of our gang headed home from Memphis - “There Goes My Everything.” A man that smitten is not going to let his woman go, no matter how noble he thinks the gesture might be.

I’m trying to teach Jack and Callie to be thankful for what they’ve got – each other plus a suave, famous Rock ‘n’ Roll King who is content to live a dog’s life in order to make his humans happy. Instead, they’re intent on turning everything upside down to get what they think Callie wants. A child. Otherwise known as a short, not-too-bright little person who makes car noises all day long, smears peanut butter on my pink satin guitar-shaped pillow, pulls my mismatched ears, runs Tonka trucks up the legs of Callie’s customers, and g enerally has turned everything upside down here at Hair.Net.

This particular little person is David. He was part of the package when his mom, Darlene, (Callie’s new manicurist) moved in lock, stock, and uppity Lhasa Apso.

That would be William, who claims he’s the Dalai Lama reincarnate. He’s prancing around here, even as I speak, acting like he outranks the King. I thought he’d get the message when I howled “The Great Pretender,” but he just did his silly Lhasa flop that made Callie say, “Isn’t he the cutest little dog?”

Cute, my slightly crooked hind leg. “Don’t Step on my Blue Suede Shoes” is what she ought to be saying. That silly fuzz ball’s motto is “Rip It Up.”

Mine is “Suspicious Minds.” Listen, you can’t trust a dog with a bushy tail. What’s the use of a tail that can’t point rabbits? Or thump the floor like a drum? Or whack your human mom’s legs to let her know you love her?

Wait till Callie finds out William sneaked into the beauty shop closet and chewed the toe out of her favorite Steve Madden moccasins. She loves her designer shoes.

But even with that dumb dog chewing up everything in sight and trying to steal my spotlight and David trying to pull my tail, I’ll have to admit business has picked up around Hair.Net. Ever since Fayrene’s daughter moved back home with her entourage (which includes a cat named Mal that I’m not even going to dignify with a comment) and started dispensing Atlanta nail art, we’ve been booked to the hilt. Everybody who is anybody comes here to have Darlene paint witches and pumpkins on their toes. And while they’re at it, they end up getting a new hairdo for Halloween.

Business is popping over at Gas, Grits and Guts, too. People have been coming from Mantachie and Saltillo and even as far off as Red Bay, Alabama, to admire Fayrene and Jarvetis’ disco ball dance trophy. They hung it over the pickled pigs’ lips then proceeded to spotlight it so it would send rainbows over the Vlasic pickles and Lay’s potato chips. My best friend, Trey (Jarvetis’ redbone hounddog), tells me that Fayrene and Jarvetis (Mooreville’s answer to royalty), are acting like lovebirds these days in spite of the fact that work is progressing on the séance room he said she’d build onto the back of their convenience store over his dead body.

And speaking of dead bodies…ever since Charlie Valentine thought Ruby Nell was going to join the body count during the Memphis Mambo Murders, he’s back to being her best friend as well as the backbone of the entire Valentine family. As a matter of fact, he’s planning to take her to the undertaker’s convention in the Yucatan.

That leaves only one Valentine unaccounted for – Lovie, Callie’s 190-pound, over-the-top, flamboyant cousin. Currently she’s in the Yucatan at Rocky’s archeological dig promoting an agenda that features the love of her life discovering her national treasure. She had that tattooed on her bombshell hips when we left off trying to catch a killer long enough to have a little fun up on Beale Street in Memphis. Personally, I think the national treasure ought to be added to the list of world wonders.

Here comes that five-year-old, pretending he’s a Peterbilt rig. I’d escape through the doggie door and mosey on down to see what’s cooking with my cute Frenchie (that would be Ann Margret) and my five handsome progeny, but somebody has to keep things straight around here. Ruby Nell will be here any minute. She called to say she wanted to get spiffied up for her trip, but you can bet she’s up to something. And I’m just the dog to find out. These mismatched radar ears miss nothing.

Well, bless’a my soul. The little person is carrying a cone of vanilla ice cream. That goofy Lhasa just waves his useless, ostentatious tail, but I know opportunity when it knocks.

I heft myself off my cushion, hum of a few bars of “Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear,” then mosey on over to see if the short person will let me lick ice cream off his elbows.



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