The Acolytes of Rufus the Doof: Edgbaston & Solihull

The Acolytes of Rufus the Doof – Chapter 5, Part 3 -Edgbaston & Solihull,  Autumn 1961  

The rest of this precious triumvirate was Doof’s acolytes: Quentin Farrington-Hyde and Drusilla Chase. Lady first (and I use the term loosely here), Drusilla Chase, aka, “Silla” or “Silly Silla,” was Rufus’ adoring sheep – Lucretia Borgia with a lobotomy.

Or so I thought at the time.

DoofMy best theory for explaining Drusilla’s mindset was that, on one fine morning between her third and fifth years, little Silla had gazed into a mirror. As she did, sweet, if rather miniscule, thoughts sprouted from the delicate pomegranate seed of her mind: “Look at me. I’m droll; I am beautiful; I’m adorable. I’m not a bit like other girls, for unlike them, I was created to enchant and beguile. But what do I get for it? Nothing. Where’s my reward? Nowhere.

“So why should I? Screw it. Screw you all.”

This insight starved the fledgling pomegranate seed, draining it not only of any sweet thought, but any further coherent thought whatsoever. Stunning, with what she and perhaps a few other girls considered a sophisticated mother-daughter look, she was the only girl in prep school.  Possibly the only nine-year-old anywhere to get away with wearing mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, painted nails, flats, nylons and a bouffant.

None of this was allowed under the school dress rules. But, even instructors were intimidated by her threats to run to her maternal grandfather, an influential man who chronically over-indulged his equally spoilt daughter and granddaughter, two nawses, with their revolting mother-daughter look. The staff found it expedient to look the other way, provided Drusilla otherwise kept to the uniform, which, aside from the length of her skirts, she did, more or less

But, within this ostensibly comely façade, Silla had become a malicious airhead. She was on autopilot, gossiping, lying and throwing tantrums, the final sentence of her last genuine thought becoming her sole life-directive.

Well-matched in temperament and looks, Drusilla and Doof were a gorgeous couple – when they kept their mouths shut.

Silla worshiped Rufus, or did a superb job of acting as though she did, and hung on his every word. It was as if she thought that Doof, of all people, walked on water. She certainly did his bidding with no questions asked.

Then, there was Rufus’ hatchet man: Quentin Farrington-Hyde, class terror, all 5 feet 2 inches and 12½ stone of him. He was one of those embarrassing scions the upper classes. Once ensconced in the most remote and inaccessible parts of the most remote and inaccessible colonies, he was never to be noticed “by anyone that mattered.” But these colonial holes were now in very short supply. So our dear motherland was stuck with him, and so were we. Quentin, also variously known as “Quasimodo,” “Tiny” and – periodically – “Lennie,” hated most of us with a passion. He had doglike devotion to Rufus. Then again, he was likely the only kid – in not only our class, but the whole school – to make Rufus and Drusilla look like Einstein and Madame Curie.

Rumor was that Quasimodo had an eye on Sandhurst.

His flattop – two heavily waxed centimeters of hair on top of his head, half a centimeter everywhere else – offered a modicum of support for the rumor. At first, I quite liked the idea. Making a military academy a new bell tower into which we could lock Quasimodo away seemed to have its merits. However, then I had sobering visions. There were diabolical confluences of events resulting in Quentin’s sitting alone somewhere in a missile silo, a finger on The Button. Given his phenomenal intellect, and an emotional range running a continuum between livid, seething, raging, frothing at the mouth and the screamin’ abdabs, the vision so terrified me that I prayed nightly for his rejection from Sandhurst (of course, without truly wishing him ill).

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

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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.