[Note: Featured pic is another bit of magic in Reg’s bedroom in 1976 Los Angeles — just before the strange proprietor at Whitfield’s World of Wonder — and everyone and everything else — appears]
“And Doof? Did they manipulate him?”
“I’d rather you didn’t use that term, either – but no, they did not. His reactions were quite predictable beforehand – he was held back a grade at your school, and hence considered doltish by your classmates; they didn’t respect him and he tried to bully respect out of them, so they didn’t like him. And, bullies rule by fear, thus do not dare to show any, themselves.
“So, no matter how much Rufus was afraid, there was no question of his accepting your dare, no matter what it was, or, as leader of his group, of his committing his cohorts, as well. They did, I’ve learned, strongly suggest to Rufus that he keep the fuel intake valve on Quentin’s person while at the cemetery, knowing he’d be rather less than discrete when it was discovered (and they made certain that the police would insist on making such a search). But, Rufus was such an arrogant little brat that they didn’t need to do more than suggest.
“Basically, they simply let Rufus be Rufus, and factored that into the situation.”
“So you set Rufus, Quentin and Drusilla up to be arrested?”
“Not me, personally, but yes, they did. As I said, I had no idea, at the time. But, Rufus and Quentin had served their purpose – they’d brought you three boys together like brothers, and done their bit to help set you personally up for the test in the cemetery. Any further utility they still had could be accomplished while they were under arrest, and there was no further reason to shield them from the consequences of their actions.”
“What about you and Bethany? Not that I’m not eternally grateful, but didn’t you influence the result?”
“I suppose we did, in a sense.”
“In a sense?”
“We gave you a means to fight back – we made sure you didn’t face forces such as these with no way to defend yourselves. You had invisibility, but one limited by your own self-control. You had one of Bethany’s charms, some special mirrors and what, for lack of a better term, I’ll call ‘magic dust.’ But I only told you in the most general terms how and when to use them. You had to use your own insight and will power – your own true intelligence – to control them in a way that would let you prevail over the entities of darkness.
“And, the courage and resolve to face all these entities bravely, with a calm and cool head, even in the face of fear, this could only come from within you And, I imagine they were the stuff of nightmares for you for sometime thereafter.”
I sigh, smile and nod my head.
“I’d terrible dreams about the cemetery almost nightly until early August, when – well, you know what happened.
“Even after that, I’d have them occasionally. Even now, these 14 years later, 8,000 miles away, I’ll have them once in a blue moon – just often enough to keep the memories fresh.”
Then, I smile at him more broadly “But y’know what’s weird? When I slept that night – in the hours just after all those horrors – fate – or someone or something – must have decided I’d suffered enough for one night. I slept like a baby – no trace of a nightmare.”
My companion shakes his head and smiles. “Sounds like their kind of indulgence,”
© 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.
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