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Rock 'n' Roll Nativity

A Southern Christmas fable


Back during the Depression, a decree went out from Jackson, Mississippi that everbody in the state had to be counted, and they's all supposed to go back to their own hometown in order for it to be done legal.

So Vernon left his home and hauled his ass over to Tupelo, 'cause he was kin some way or another to one of the bigshots that started the town. Vernon traveled in an old Plymouth along with his wife Gladys, who was knocked up and showing pretty big.

And I mean big. While they's in Tupelo, her water broke and she had to deliver that baby right there, and she wrapped him in some old rags and laid him in a horse trough they found in the shed they's staying in, 'cause there wudn't no room for 'em over in the town's boarding house.

Now it happened there was a bunch of moonshiners outside of town, keeping watch over their still by night. And out of nowhere this light, so bright it pert-near blinded 'em -- appeared in the sky with an angel in the middle of it, and lo, it scared the pure-T shit out of 'em.

But the angel said, "Take it easy, boys, I'm bringing good news that'll make everbody mighty happy; 'cause today in the town of Tupelo, an ole gal give birth to a Musical Savior, who is Elvis the King, and one day he'll turn music upside down and white folks will finally start shaking their butts. And this'll be a sign so y'all'll know you're in the right place: you'll find a little baby wrapped in some rags -- like clean dishcloths and such -- and laying in a horse trough."

And all of a sudden the angel had a whole crowd of other angels all around him and they was all praising God and saying, "Glory to God" and "Hallelujah," and all such as that.

Then the angels kind of faded away like, and one of the moonshiners spoke up: "I say let's take my truck over to Tupelo and see what in the hell them angels was talking about."

So they hurried over there and they found Gladys and Vernon and the little baby, sure enough laying in a horse trough, and afterward they went around praising God and telling everbody what they seed and what the angels had told 'em, and everbody that heard 'em wondered if they'd gone crazy from drinking their own liquor.

Now a few days after that, three lawyers from New Orleans who'd been following this big, bright star showed up at Governor Senett Conner's office. You remember Conner -- ugly fat man, owned a bunch of radio stations? Anyhow, the lawyers wanted to know where they could find this baby that was supposed to shake up the music world when he was growed up.

When Conner heard that, he had a damned fit and called together some state senators and a bunch of preachers and asked 'em if they knowed anything about this kid the three lawyers were talking about.

One preacher said, "I heared tell that some kinda herb doctor in the old days wrote about a new leader that'd be born, up in Tupelo."

And Conner said, "A lot of people believe in that kind of shit, so somebody better take care of this mess before it goes too far and my radio stations go belly-up."

Then the governor called for the three lawyers and he sent 'em to Tupelo, saying, "Go up 'ar and find the young'un, and when you find him, let me know, so I can go meet him and see him for myself. I wanna give his pa a big see-gar."

So the three lawyers set out again and kept following that same star, 'til it stopped over the place where the young'un was at. When they saw that the star had stopped, they whooped and hollered, 'cause they was plum give out from all their traveling.

They went in the house and saw the young'un with Gladys, his ma; and they kneeled down in front of him, and opened up their pokes and give him presents of snuff, two buckets of chicken, and a roll of 'lumium foil.

That night, they's all warned in a dream not to go back to Gov. Conner, so they took off back to New Orleans by a dirt road where they wouldn't have to go near Jackson.

After the lawyers left, an angel come to Vernon in a dream and said, "Get up, take the young'un and his ma, and catch a bus to Memphis, Tennessee, and stay there till I tell you. That fat-ass Conner has a mind to kill your young'un."

"You don't have to tell me twicet," said Vernon, jumping straight up. He woke Gladys and they took Baby Elvis and caught the first bus to Memphis. And they never did come back, even after another angel come to Vernon and told him it was safe to go back to Tupelo.

And so it came to pass that Elvis grew up in Memphis, surrounded by black music, and grew to manhood, and in his 21st year, fulfilled the herb doctor's prophecy.

Special thanks to whoever wrote the Book of Luke.

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