The Bluebottle Boys, Chapter 13, Part 3 — Birmingham, 26 March 1962: “Showdown at the Cemetery” [Section 3 of 5]

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We were finishing the last bit when our adversaries descended the now shadowy stairs.

Doofus and Silla, like us, were still in uniforms and overcoats, yet somehow resembled a malicious, pint-sized, nawse version of Ski Party’s Frankie and Annette, with Quentin, as a combination of King Kong, the Abominable Snowman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, for a bodyguard.
“Nice of you to make it,” Ian called out.

“Wouldn’t have missed it,” Rufus replied, in a tone as smirky as his face.

They disappeared behind the greenery, taking the circular walkway, reappearing at ground level before Doof sneered, “What are you two doing, anyway?”

“Marking territory,” I answered. “With mirrors – we’ve planted them all over. No defacement, impossible for anyone who doesn’t know where they all are to find them – they’ll likely still give the place a bit of glitter’n’glow 50 years from now. How ’bout you?”
Drusilla pulled out a can of spray paint and blasted the back of one of the tombstones.

“Original,” I said, with my father’s dry humor.

“But effective,” she replied, aiming her can at a nearby statue of an angel.


“Don’t!” Ian called out. “Not an angel!”

But Drusilla laughed, blasting the statue.

Was it shadows, or a figment of my imagination? I thought I saw the angel’s face come alive for a moment and frown at her. What can’t be disputed is that less than 15 seconds later, the spray paint disappeared.

“Very effective,” I said, even more dryly.

Silla frowned, blasting the statue again. The same thing happened.

Einstein said that one definition of insanity was constantly repeating the same thing, expecting a different result. By such a definition, Drusilla was certifiable, for she blasted the statue repeatedly, getting the same result each time.

She grew increasingly furious, finally causing Rufus to take the spray can away from her. With an angry scream, she ran over to the statue and kicked it (causing no discernible damage whatsoever).


Meanwhile, Rufus the Goofus blasted the side of one of the trees, another pair of tombstones and the plinth of some broken monument, getting some paint on the snow for good measure. He then walked to the catacombs and blasted a door on the ground floor and another on the mezzanine level, looking quite pleased with himself as he strolled back down the ramp.

“Mission accomplished.” My tone had grown nearly arid, slicing through the damp, frigid air. “Now everyone’s marked territory.”

I switched my tone to an icy impression of Auntie Gene. “And so… we wait.”

 

I paused, smiling at them, cocking an eyebrow.

“Anyone know any dirty jokes? Or wouldya prefer a round of strip poker?”

Drusilla ignored me and stormed across to Rufus, who looked at me as if I were a germ.

Tiny joined them. He tried to look menacingly at Ian and me, but he was too cold and bored to really pull it off, and ended up looking more constipated than anything else.

I shrugged. “Suit yourselves.”

Ian joined me as we sat down on a monument near the last row of tombstones; the gruesome threesome sat on one at the opposite end.

With little else to while away the time, Ian and I idly began to sing, beginning with “Mashed Potato Time,” with a segue into “Shiny Pretty Talk,” to “Hey Little Girl,” to “Ring-a-ding Girl,” to “Abdul Abulbul Amir,” to “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight,” and finally to “The Biggest Aspidistra in the World,” where, for a grand finale, we added our own personalized revision of Grammer’s wartime variation:

 

 

Doof, Tiny and Drusilla will have no way they can cope
With th’ biggest arse-pidistra in th’ world
None of ’em’ll think o’nothin’ ’cept t’stare on like a dope
At th’ biggest arse-pidistra in th’ world
For when they see it comin’ each one’ll have a cow
No matter ’ow they struggle, it’ll get ’em good, an’ ’ow
An’weer gonna ’ang ol’ Doofus from th’ very ’ighest bough
Of th’ biggest arse-pidistra in th’ world
Yes, weer gonna ’ang Drusilla from th’ very ’ighest bough
Of th’ biggest arse-pidistra in th’ world….

We were starting Tiny’s chorus, but discretion intervened when he stood up and threatened to come over and do something awful to us if we continued.

We were left to content ourselves with sniggering at him. Having run out of any other songs to irritate them, we began a rousing rendition of “John Jacob Jingleheimer-Smith.”

 

All the while, the cemetery grew more bleak and bitter, shadowy and sinister.

We were on the thirteenth or fourteenth “badadadadadada,” with Tiny having already yelled three times to shut up and becoming increasingly graphic about the bodily harm he was going to inflict on us, when it came our way: A noise of someone – or something – not much larger than we were, making its way toward us.

It shut us up in a way that Tiny couldn’t have hoped to accomplish in a dozen years. I gripped a palmful of pouch dust as we sat there, tensely waiting for this person or thing to show itself.

 

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

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