Part two of my Alice Cooper/Sherlock Holmes mystery.
The stage itself amazed Holmes even further.
Not for Cooper a flat board to prance around upon. Towering up over the ordinary stage was a special platform, erected by craftsmen to display the goings-on in the best possible fashion.
The lights dimmed and the entertainment began. The five principles took the stage with Cooper under the spotlight and the two additional musicians almost hidden.
Cooper was wearing a white tailcoat, which he quickly abandoned, and a hat that fell off. The music was loud and penetrating, new material from their new album, but the goings-on seemed innocent enough.
There was a hint at things to come during a new slow song which built to a terrifying climax. It was called ‘Hard Hearted Alice’ – a sign of what Alice was really like?
Then things did start to expand: Alice complained of toothache. The dentist appeared with a drill of immense proportions and proceeded to operate on the singer. Next the tooth, the size of a grown man, walked on with exceptionally shapely legs.
The audience lapped up this imaginative display of theatrics. Then the lights went down.
Holmes watched, carefully disbelieving, as a group of assistants carried a wheelbarrow on the stage. In the wheelbarrow were human limbs, legs, arms, a torso, a head. The foul, evil atrocities about which he had heard so much, were about to begin.
The group reappeared, this time dressed in black.
Alice himself slunk on with thigh-length leopard skin boots, cradling a snake. “I love the dead,” he was singing, adding, apparently as an afterthought, “before they’re cold.”
Suddenly he gave up the snake, and took a hatchet from his belt. In the flickering lights, while the music grew louder, he crept towards the scattered limbs.
As smoke circled the stage, Alice produced a baby, a child in arms, a harmless innocent victim of his perverse delights. Without hesitation he chopped at the poor brat with his hatchet in an orgy of self-indulgence as he eyed the scattered limbs.
And in front of him thousands reached forward with their arms to share the final climax as a red liquid spewed forth.
But all was not lost. From the left of the stage appeared Magic Randi, a character yet to be introduced into the pained yarn.
Randi, whose tricks Cooper relied upon, was bent for revenge for Alice’s inhuman deeds. Swiftly he produced a guillotine, dragged the screaming Alice forward, and chopped off his head.
Silence. The villain had been eradicated. That’s a sharp lesson to folk who chop up babies, thought Holmes.
Neal Smith produced Alice’s head from the basket beneath the guillotine. It was dripping with blood. The other three dragged his headless torso to the centre of the stage, tugged at the limbs and refreshed their appetites on human steak.
The place was in an uproar. But instead of demanding justice for these human excreta, 10,000 fans chanted for more, like the French revolutionaries demanded the heads of the aristocrats.
Then it stopped. Everything went silent, but for a mournful wail from an organ. The atrocities were over.
Two minutes later Alice came back on stage singing ‘School’s Out’ and Holmes realised that something remarkable had taken place.
All hell broke out as the innocent Alice returned for an encore. A Christmas tree at the rear of the stage was lit, and who should come on to greet the fans but Santa Claus himself.
But all was not so innocent as it had seemed. As cheerful Santa distributed presents to the fans, the five members of the gang set on him, tearing off his jolly white beard and assaulting him in what appeared to be a particularly painful fashion.
That night, after Alice had left his dressing room, Holmes tip-toed silently in. He collected one item: a can of Budweiser that the real Alice had drank from. That made two cans in his collection.
The following day dawned bright but chilly. All the gang, plus Holmes, were travelling on a luxurious private jet to Ann Arbor, just 45 minutes away.
Alice appeared on the jet, calm and smiling, wearing an ankle length black leather coat and telling one and all that his stomach was no longer bothering him. He sat and watched a Bogart movie on the specially installed television sets until Holmes decided the time was right to speak to him face to face.
“How are you feeling man,” said Holmes, breaking the ice (and there’s lots of ice around in northern USA at this time of year).
“Fine,” smiled Alice, who was complaining that the weather was too cold for playing golf with his bodyguard. Sipping on the inevitable can of Budweiser, Alice was charming, approaching and almost humble.
Alice explained that the current show was almost the same as the one the gang did during the summer with a few additional members. The theatrics were the same, and will probably be the same as the next time they visit England, if a certain Member of Parliament doesn’t attempt to get their entry permits stopped.
At the end of the flight Holmes slipped his third empty can of Budweiser into his case. His investigation was progressing satisfactorily.
At the Ann Arbor Field House, part of the University of Michigan, Alice re-acted the performance of the previous evening in exact detail, only this time it was better, or worse, depending on your point of view. The stomach pains no longer affected him.
It was horrible, but when it was over Holmes collected his fourth can of empty Budweiser.
In his room that evening, Holmes unwrapped all four cans, and examined them. The fingerprints on all were identical. The investigation was complete.
“Aha,” he said aloud to no one in particular. “There is but one Alice after all, a dual personality whose atrocities are restricted to public gatherings only. Offstage he’s as normal as the next man.”
Back home on Baker Street, Holmes explained his deductions to trusting Dr. Watson.
“But how did you find this out?” inquired the faithful Doctor.
“Elementary, my dear Watson,” replied Holmes, before calling the maid to remove four empty cans of Budweiser which were cluttering up the chemical table. “The prints on all the cans are identical.”
“Cooper is a nice guy after all,” he added. “He even wishes readers of Melody Maker a Merry Christmas.”