The Bluebottle Boys: Edgbaston: Monkeys on the Knees (Section 2 of 4)

The Bluebottle Boys: Edgbaston: Monkeys on the Knees (Section 2 of 4)

[Notes: (1) The featured picture is of the side staircase, 50 meters from the entrance to the Main Hall, where Rufus and Quentin trap and bully Ian (before Reggie and Stan intervene).

(2) At this point, I’m going to stop representing the way Reggie, Stan and Reggie’s Aunt Genevieve (“Auntie Gene”) spoke at the time, at least in the absence of a phonetic alphabet to fall back on (Ian, Jenny and Rashmi never spoke this way to begin with; neither, for all their faults, did Rufus, Drusilla and Quentin). Our protagonists’ speech was what it was, at the time, but depicting it’s unnecessary within Birmingham, the Black Country, and points in between, and it’s only marginally intelligible anywhere else. Lulu, and other characters who speak with a measure of Brummie and or Black Country, but speak less often, will continue to do so. I ask your indulgence.]

Monkeys

We waited with Ian until his mum arrived to take Ian to a physician before returning to class.

No one had taken our truancy amiss under the circumstances. I’d felt bad about leaving Jenny alone to pick up the game pieces by herself, but Stan had thought it best under the circumstances. She hadn’t seen it that way at all, however, and when school had let out for the day, she marched up to Stan and me, handed him the game (all pieces intact), turned on her heels and marched away. Except in class, we’d not see her again for weeks. Out of respect, we declared a moratorium on the playing of any more board games until she returned.

* * *

Whatever else one might say about Rufus, he was hardly a late sleeper. Then again, punctuality did seem a particular, although not necessarily exclusive, virtue of the vacuous. By the time Stan and I arrived at school the next day, he was already there, Tiny in tow. There was no sign of Drusilla, who might well’ve been out grabbing a final few minutes of beauty sleep, but the male contingent of Genghis Kahn’s answer to the Three Stooges seemed to be doing fine on its own. They’d trapped and buttonholed poor Ian, near a staircase about 50 meters or so from the entrance to the main hall, Rufus having pinioned him between two adjacent interior office windows, attracting a fairly large crowd in the process.

Stan and I ran over, hoping to do damage control, hearing Rufus loud and clear – mostly loud – as we approached.

“… amazed you’ve cheek to show your fat face again, after your spazz attack yesterday, lardo retardo.”

Stan came up, put his hands on either side of Rufus’ face and grabbed his cheeks in a parody of a maiden aunt or doting grandmother. “But y’have cheek enough fer the both of you, haven’t y’ Goofus, erm, Doofus, erm, Rufus.”

The fickle coterie that had been laughing at Ian moments earlier was now laughing at Rufus the Goofus.

“GET. YORE. FILTHY. HANDS. OAFF. HIM!”

Tiny had decided it was time to get involved. He picked Stan up and threw him against a wall below part of the stairs. I stepped in between him and Stan, holding my right hand to his nose, the hand still inside one of the leather gauntlets I wore (partially to protect my hands from the cold, partially because I thought they looked cool).

“Tiny, down boy, Tiny – smell the glove.”

He looked momentarily befuddled, so I turned my attention to Rufus the Doofus.

“It was just monkeys on the knees, Doof.

Tell y’wot: Why don’t you and King Kong go inside where it’s warm, curl up by the common room fire and read a couple of nice traffic signs for an hour or two? You’ll have a fine ol’ time and I’ve every confidence you’ll have read ’em both by then. Remember, Doofus, even with Quasimodo here, it’s still three of us against two of you.”

“What? Three little choir boys: Sissy Stone, Gunga Din and Fatboy Spazz, against Quentin and me?” sneered Rufus, Lord High Doofus of Goofus. “I’m shaking in my boots, pretty-boy.”

“Dunno about that,” I said, smiling disingenuously as I could, as I tried to keep my eyes from flashing. “Lennie might wander off if you don’t give him his reward soon. Then wot’ll y’do? C’mon now, Doof, give the lummock his puppy back – better still, just throw ’em both some nice pieces of raw meat – yeh, that should do it.”

“There’s a good lad,” I added, patting his cheek.

Then all three of us lost no time disappearing into the crowd, laughing on our necks all the way, and were gone before either of them could react. The rest of the day was uneventful, Stan and I being careful to guide Ian away from any member of the terrible trio, steering him toward an instructor whenever any of them appeared.

© 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.

Yes, I’ll continue to serialise the novel (after all, we’re still in the “getting-up-to-speed” chapters necessary to the tale, but with the “actual story” just on the horizon). Not only will I serialise all the “promised” chapters, I’ll be expanding the serial 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.