The Bluebottle Boys – Edgbaston: Dares & Dispensation, Part 4

The Bluebottle Boys – Chapter 9, Part 4 – Edgbaston, mid-March 1962: Dares & Dispensation

Bluebottle boys[The featured pic is of the corridor outside the Headmaster’s office.]

The Headmaster had barely managed to extend greetings, seat us in his office and shut the door before Drusilla began trying to hijack the narrative. She claimed to have followed me from the grammar school, where, according to her, Rashmi and I’d been snogging (she’d apparently taken the time on the way back to learn what Rashmi’s name was). She’d returned to the common room – quite fortuitously – just in time to peer through the crowd and see me grab Rufus from behind, adding that Quentin had grabbed Ian to pressure me into letting Rufus go.

She was unable to explain why a crowd had already gathered before I’d grabbed Doof or why Tiny would have dropped the f-bomb and threatened me. She tried to claim Quentin had never used the f-bomb, and the teachers were mistaken, but offered no reason why her memory or perception would be superior to theirs, particularly when she’d seen and heard through a crowd as she’d stood at the back of the room, and had likely entered after the offending word was uttered.

The more she tried to explain the discrepancies the worse it went for her, until she finally stomped her foot, demanding to know if the Headmaster was calling her a liar. At this point, he advised Drusilla that she’d overstayed whatever use she’d been and to return to class.

She departed in an indignant huff, declaring the governors would be hearing from her grandfather.

Rufus took up the narrative, deciding to throw Tiny under the proverbial bus. He claimed that Tiny had grabbed Ian of his own volition and that he’d almost persuaded Tiny to release Ian when I’d interfered. But if that were the case, why would Tiny have insisted upon my bringing Rufus to him, rather than both of us simply releasing our respective hostages simultaneously, and why didn’t Tiny attack me at the start, as he ultimately did anyway? Rufus’ version of events was challenged by the teachers’ version, even more so by Ian’s and mine.

In the end, we each received a note on our permanent record, with the qualification that evidence of who started the fight was inconclusive. We were otherwise off the hook, except for Quasimodo, who received a full week’s suspension as a reward for his colorful language.

It wasn’t twenty seconds from the time the Headmaster’s door shut behind us on the way out until Quentin – with one hand each – slammed both Ian and me against the wall, a triumphant smile on his face at having finally gained control over both of us at the same time. Rufus stood behind him, smiling sadistically.

“You may think you got away, but you’re only delaying the inevitable. We’re going to get you – both of you.”

I raised an eyebrow and tried to look as unperturbed as possible.

At the time, I honestly had no idea what prompted me to say what I said next. Even the logic I used to justify it in the immediate aftermath was completely absent when I uttered it. I mustered the best smirk I could in my nervousness..

“Real brave, Doof,” I said, “three of you against two of us. Medals all round. But I bet you’d never have the guts to try to get us on my terms.”

“And what are those?” he sneered.

“Warstone Lane Cemetery. Know where it is?”

“Of course I do,” he scoffed. “Everybody does.”

“Seven o’clock, this coming Monday night, by the catacombs – be there. Each side marks they were present. No fighting. Last man standing wins.”

Rufus the Goofus burst out laughing. “What? You think I’ll run away from ghosts or something?”

“There are tales about that place, Doof.”

He disdainfully directed Quasimodo to let us go, which Tiny reluctantly did, standing aside sulkily.

“Suit yourself, pretty-boy,” Rufus sneered. “We’ll be there. But you’ll be the ones running home to your mummies.”

© 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.

It’s here! The first edition of Volume 1 of “The Bluebottle Boys,” second novel of the Reggie Stone series, is now available from Amazon.

Yes, I’ll continue to serialise the novel to include at least a few more chapters — maybe more than a few (how many more to be determined) — just for letting Reggie and his friends into your life.

They thank you, and so do I.

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G. H. McCallum

G. H. McCallum is author of the Reggie Stone series, the first of which, Walking Backwards for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall, was released on 12 December 2014; look for the second, The Bluebottle Boys, in late spring of 2016. He blogs principally on the 1960s, Victoriana and magic realism.