The Bluebottle Boys — Chapter 9, Part 1 — Edgbaston, mid-March 1962: Stan and Reggie Dares & Dispensation, Part 1
The featured pic is your first view of the interior of Ian’s house: The dining hall (where Stan and Reggie try to talk Ian into recanting his confession) as seen from the main staircase.
Thursday night they called a meeting. Preferring not to be seen around a station house again, the Tippins family had apparently volunteered their house for the event. It was the same lounge Stan and I’d been in before, but it seemed a great deal more intimidating now, and a lot less friendly. Two officers were there, as were all our parents.
All three of us stuck to our respective stories, refusing to budge.
Stan and I obtained everyone’s permission to talk to Ian alone. Mrs. Tippins escorted us down a hallway off the lounge. It ultimately opened up into a dining room, papered and paneled like the lounge, with similar porcelain design around the fireplace. An oak dining table, at last five or six meters long, stood in the center. Although she ostensibly left us on our own at the table, to this day I’ve always had a feeling that all three of our mums were somehow nearby, watching and/or listening in on everything going on.
Stan and I tried to talk Ian into recanting his “confession,” telling him that there was no point in his being punished, too, but he was adamant; we were his friends and allies, and he’d rather be punished, too, than face school alone without us.
We returned to the adults.
“Stan and I tried,” I said, “but Ian’s adamant about sticking to his own confession. But he really is innocent – he didn’t’ do it.”
It took me a few seconds to realize why Stan’s face looked as if I’d dropped an anvil on his foot. Then I realized: I guess I had slipped up due to tension and pressure, but the damage was done.
“Stan?” Dr. Gupta’s face looked pained, his voice barely audible.
“S’my name at school. S’wot they call me. S’wot I call meself.”
“Why?” Did we really hear a faint voice or did Dr. Gupta’s lips simply move?
Stan let out a half-laugh, half-scoff.
“Why? Because I’m the only Asian boy in m’class – one of a handful in that whole bloody school.”
“Sanjit!” Dr. Gupta admonished. “Such language!”
“I apologise Pita,” Stan said quietly. “S’not as if everyone doesn’t know m’real name, like I’ve kept it secret or hidden or am ashamed of it. But I’m in England now, not in India. ‘Sanjit’ may be ‘exotic’ here, but I don’ wan’ t’be ‘exotic,’ I wan’ t’be ‘normal.’ I wan’ t’be like me mates – so I say that I’m ‘Stan.’”
“Soonds lik’ey all wan’ t’soy ‘Om Spartacus,’ ‘fy’aks me,” mused D. S. Higgins, a tall, thin, stooped, plainclothes detective in his mid-to-late 30s, and the senior officer on our case.. “Willya gie me a moment t’confer wi’ me brother officer, eya – alone?”
Mrs. Tippins led them to a nearby room, off that same hallway we’d just left. Ian tried to follow and listen in at the door, but his mum ordered him back to the lounge almost immediately. Ian returned somewhat lethargically, then picked up the pace just before he got to us, his front away from view of his parents just long enough to point at Stan – but not at me – smile and flash him a thumbs up.
The officers returned to the lounge minutes later. D. S. Higgins looked directly at Stan, his hooded eyes narrowing.
“Yow. Goo’um. Y’yad sum ’igh spirits on Holi an’ y’got carried away. Fink s’why y’med’at ridiculous confession t’the St. Pat’s attacks. Y’erd y’mates talken, got carried away agen an’ ‘confessed.’ We doy believe a weard, an’ we’m throwen it ert. But it’s on ye record – yom cautioned. ‘Fy’ever shoo’p’eya agen, weel be taken a closer look. So take care as y’doy. Understan’?”
Stan gulped and nodded hesitantly.
D. S. Higgins turned to Dr. and Mrs. Gupta.
“Fink s’I can coun’on yow tew t’see s’he doy.”
“You certainly can, Detective Sergeant,” Dr. Gupta said tersely. Stan might have been out of the woods with respect to the law, but I had the feeling his troubles at home were just beginning.
“Y’am excused ’en,” D. S. Higgins told the Guptas, who left directly.
He then turned to Ian and me. “Yow tew. Tomorrer safter at foive – be at the address om gonna gidya, wid y’parents. Y’got sum victims t’meet and weel decoide wots t’be dun widya. So doy be late.”
He gave a page each from his note pad to Dad and to Mr. Tippins (completely ignoring Mrs. Tippins when she attempted to reach for it). I presumed, correctly, that there was an address on each of the pages, and that it wasn’t a police station. Mrs. Tippins took Mum aside a few minutes before we, too, left. Mum’s smile was a bit tense, but she sounded sincere when she thanked Mrs. Tippins for something just before we departed.
© 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. For those of you in the Los Angeles area, I’ll be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, April 22 and 23 at the USC campus, not far from the statue of Tommy Trojan. Would love to meet you; hope you can be there.
G. H. McCallum
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