The Bluebottle Boys: Whitfields World of Wonder (Section 3 of 3)

The Bluebottle Boys: Whitfields World of Wonder (Section 3 of 3)

I bolted out of the shop, with my guitar in one hand and my newly acquired purchases in the other, making it to Grammer’s house just as the last glimmers of twilight faded away. It didn’t occur to me until later on, as Grammer and I sang folk songs by the fire, to wonder how the Shopkeeper at Whitfields World of Wonder knew my name, or about Bethany, much less about Grammer. Or who, besides Bethany, would ever use a word such as “ere,” instead of “before.” Or what any sort of autonomous, independent self-governing shopkeeper could mean by the term “higher up.”

* * *
Whitfield's World of WonderMum and Dad collected me the next day after church, as usual, taking time for the routinely late lunch and visit with Grammer before taking off. I was normally indifferent to the route they took home, as I sat in the back seat in the company of my own thoughts, glancing out at the scenery from time to time.

Today, however, I asked them to take me down Drury Lane.

I’d noted the surrounding landmarks as I’d looked for Whitfield’s World of Wonder, so I knew where I was. The landmarks were there, but where Whitfield’s should’ve stood, there was only an empty, boarded up shop – or what was left of it. Half of it had already been knocked down, as had significant portions of surrounding shops: all of them destroyed to make room for a new shopping center, though I’d have sworn they were all standing last night.

Even at that moment, however, I’d an odd feeling this wouldn’t be the last time Whitfield’s World of Wonder – and its strange little proprietor – would pop up unexpectedly into my life.

I’d expected Bethany to appear at the same place by the road where she had caught my attention on Christmas Day 1960, but she didn’t.

Dad had driven a good mile farther up the road, about to pass a small grove, when I saw vapors emerge from the foliage. Bethany stood fully formed, by the side of the road dressed in the white gown that she customarily wore. I alone saw her, and smiled and waved at her as we passed. As I looked out the rear window, I saw her wave back and blow me a kiss, walk toward the trees, turn to vapors and vanish.

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

Check out my website at Leave your first name and email address at the opt-in box, and you’ll receive my new ebook “Alice Pleasance Liddell (4 May 1852 – 16 November 1934): A Tribute to the Girl from Wonderland.” In it, you’ll meet the real-life girl who inspired the “Alice” character in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.”

You’ll learn how Lewis Carroll met and became friends with Alice; how the stories arose; who may have helped Carroll create the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter; why Alice of the illustrations is a long-haired blonde, when Alice Liddell (at least as a young child) was a short-haired brunette; who the model(s) for Alice of the illustrations may have been; why certain illustrations were likely an inside joke between Carroll and Alice; how the real-life Alice had a love affair with a prince; who talked Carroll into making Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland a story for all children, not just the Liddell sisters, and so much more.

The Bluebottle Boys (Volume One) is available from Amazon books. The Bluebottle Boys (Volume Two) is due out in September.

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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.