The Bluebottle Boys – Chapter 9 – Edgbaston, mid-March 1962: Dares & Dispensation, Part 3
[The featured pic is of the common room, as seen from the fireplace]
Meanwhile, Doof and Tiny must have seen me making a run to the front of the school. Even they could deduce Ian would be alone and unattended; they likely located him in the first six minutes of my going outside.
I returned to the common room to discover Tiny had grabbed Ian from the rear, pinning his arms behind his back in the process. Ian struggled helplessly, like an insect impaled on a pin. Rufus paced in front of him, resembling nothing so much as a Gestapo officer in a B movie, as he poked Ian, or tweaked his face. I couldn’t hear a thing anyone was saying but, figuring it was the best way for me to improve our bargaining position, I ran over, grabbing Rufus from behind, pinning his arms behind him the same way that Quasimodo had Ian.
“Prisoner exchange, Quentin?” I called out to him, gambling Tiny might be more agreeable if I were to show him a modicum of respect, calling him by his proper name.
“Let him go, NOW!” bellowed Tiny.
He clearly was not grasping how the process was supposed to work at this point, and it was time to clarify matters.
“Or wot? You wan’ him? Come an’ get him.”
A minor flash of insight slowly made its way across Quasimodo’s simian features. I’d gotten through to him – somewhat. He’d come to the realization that he couldn’t do anything to me without letting go of Ian. He couldn’t have both of us under his control at the same time. I could see the rage and frustration growing in his face by the second.
“YOU BRING HIM TO ME NOW – RIGHT NOW – OR I’LL F—— KILL YOU BOTH!”
Oh well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Lennie’s little outburst certainly did instantly bring all other talk and activity within 50 meters to a grinding halt. A crowd began to coalesce around the four of us, the atmosphere rapidly growing tense. Then, out of nowhere, an atonal version of an old chant arose:
“Reggie and Rashmi sitting in a tree, k – i – s – s – i – n – g. First comes love, second comes marriage, there goes Reggie and a baby carriage.”
The tension escaped like the air let out of a balloon.
A small group of girls giggled a little. Only the mind and vocal talents of Drusilla Chase, such as they were, could have conceived, much less uttered, a taunt so completely idiotic, irrelevant, badly done and out of tune that it bordered on genius.
“And what do you and Rufus get up to when you go off together, Drusilla? Play Tiddlywinks?” I asked, hoping to continue lightening the mood – and get a bit of my own back.
Some slightly larger ripples of laughter, seasoned lightly with wolf-whistles and catcalls, followed suit. But although even Rufus and Drusilla had enough sense to keep quiet, Tiny, possibly wanting to protect his mates, maybe feeling his moment slipping away or perhaps just out of simple rank stupidity, went into Br’er Bear mode.
“I’M. GOANNA. KNOACKE. YOAURE. HEADE. CLEANE. OAFF!”
The line wasn’t nearly as funny when bellowed in a quasi-posh accent as 12½ stone of enraged ten-year-old aristocratic troglodyte charged at us. And, bellower and enraged troglodyte were one and the same.
Silla let out a little scream as Quasimodo, with the bellow aforesaid, threw Ian against the wall, then hit both Rufus and me with a flying tackle. It was the moment some of the teachers had been waiting for; they intervened, broke up the ensuing fracas, and frog-marched the four of us off to the Headmaster’s office.
Drusilla, not wanting to be cheated out of any chance, however dubious, to be in the limelight, insisted on tagging along, and was provisionally admitted.
© 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.
It’s here! Here at last! The first edition of Volume 1 of “The Bluebottle Boys,” second novel of the Reggie Stone series, is now available from Amazon.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, I look forward to seeing you this weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC campus. I’ll be posting a map today, in a separate post, of where I’ll be. Basically, it’s in an area called “Mid Trousdale” (Trousdale Parkway, a short walk north of the statue of Tommy Trojan, near the von Kleinsmid Center for International and Public Affairs). Admission to the festival is free, though you will need tickets if you want to attend certain events. Look for the banner saying “Writers Mastermind Alliance,” a group with which it’s been my pleasure and privilege to be affiliated. See you there.
G. H. McCallum
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