The Bluebottle Boys — Chapter 17, Part 2 — Edgbaston, late March 1962: Forgiveness & New Beginnings [section 2 of 3]

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Stan picked up matters.

Pita – Father – I ask your forgiveness for shame I’ve brought to our family. Through grace of the Divine I’ve been spared the ordeal of a criminal court or the disgrace of any conviction, but I still retain a criminal record, even if it does only contain a caution.”

“Not necessarily,” Ian piped up, throwing a spanner into the solemnity of the moment.

“Not now,” I hissed at him.

“Not necessarily what?” asked Dr. Gupta.

“He won’t necessarily continue to have a record,” said Ian, getting dangerously chopsy as he explained the “deal” we’d made with Father Fitzgerald and D.S. Higgins on our case, and how our file might well end up “lost” and disappear altogether if he and I acquitted ourselves well at Easter.

“Kick’im f’he does it again,” I whispered to Rashmi as Ian told our tale of “woe and valor.”

“How will I know?” she whispered back.

“I’ll touch your elbow,” I replied.

“So my caution might disappear, if you two sing well – is that it?” Stan asked.

Ian had managed to catch the interest of both Stan and Dr. Gupta.

All our cautions might. It’s not like we’re likely to be suspects in other crimes is it?” Ian said. “Not like we got arrested for something serious, like Rufus and Tiny did.”

Shut. Up. Ian,” I thought, trying to send him a mind message.

But, I didn’t touch Rashmi’s elbow – not yet.

“What did they do?” Stan asked – apparently the only kid in the school who didn’t already know (then again, maybe he did know, and was playing to his father).

“They got caught defacing gravestones at Warstone Lane Cemetery,” Ian answered excitedly. “Drusilla did too. You see, w – ouch!

It had become elbow time.

“I’m sorry, Ian,” Rashmi said, looking as innocent as she could as she disingenuously apologized. “I got carried away with the story and didn’t watch what I was doing. Does it hurt much?”

As Ian shook his head, I jumped in.

“Silla was arrested too, but got off with a caution. But, when the police searched Quentin, they found the fuel intake valve from Ian’s Bunsen burner. Doof must’ve sabotaged it, although he and Quasimodo are blaming each other. They’re both under arrest for attempted arson after they nearly burned down the chemistry lab. ’Til everything gets sorted, they’re suspended from school as well.”

There it was – just the facts, ma’am, and not a hint of Ian’s and my own involvement.

“Puts things in perspective, I think,” Ian said with a sigh.

“Yes it does,” mused Dr. Gupta.


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