The Bluebottle Boys — Chapter 18, Solihull, 31 March 1962: Bethany, Part II [section 12 of 12]

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As he said this, he took out a thin wheel, 10 centimeters or so in diameter, covered in crimson velvet with odd ivory designs. He spun the wheel, and my eyes became fixed upon it.

The odd ivory designs, random and disconnected when the wheel was stationary, all linked as the wheel spun, forming a kind of spiral. I felt my mind – or whatever part of me was there, being drawn into that spiral and spun into what felt like that wheel’s infinite depths – well, perhaps not really infinite, but they did seem huge, cavernous – the next thing to it.

Although I moved through it at a steadily increasing speed, I wasn’t at all sure I’d ever manage to leave, but slowly both the crimson depths and the ivory spiral began to melt away. Red turned to green — the green of forest branches. Then they too melted away, until once again I was in the room before the hearth and fireplace, seated on Bethany’s lap in a stuffed Mad Tea Party chair.

I was groggy, as if I’d slept a long while, but glad to be back in my body again.

Reflexively, I snuggled closer to Bethany, as much glad to be with her as to have a physical form once more. As I did, I couldn’t help wondering if it was like that for her – that a portion of her joy and pleasure in being between the walls was a chance to occupy, if only temporarily, a physical form, to be able to touch someone.

My eyes were still shut when she kissed my forehead, but I liked to think Bethany smiled down on me when she did.

“Reggie, be sprag,” she said gently, lifting me from her lap and setting me down. “Arise, make haste and hetch thy way down the throws, for time it be that thou didst nip off home, ef thou hast expect to be there ere cock-shut-time.”

I was still rather woozy as Bethany took me by the hand. We walked out the door, and I blearily retraced our steps through the spiral corridor of the hollow tree.

A blast of cold air as we exited restored my full alertness.

We were in the churchyard where Gramfer was buried. Bethany, who, unknown to me, had remembered to pick up my guitar this time and carry it with her, now handed it off to me, in its case. The sky had become dark slate grey; though it remained starless, it was quickly turning charcoal. Nightfall would descend in a matter of minutes. She walked with me as far as Gramfer’s grave, and I heard her whisper, almost inaudibly, “Be at peace, Fen,” as we passed.

She looked up at the sky, then back at me.

“Via, Reggie! Run to thy house now quickern anything, ere plaguesome matters there become. Soonsever anon shalt I run agin thee.”

I gave Bethany a quick hug, and then scurried towards High Street. I paused near the churchyard entrance, turning round just in time to see her turn to mist and the hollow tree melt away after her.


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

With this, we come to the end of the postings for The Bluebottle Boys (Volume 1) — but not to the end of the book itself, for the stories of how The Bluebottle Boys and “The Aston Quartet,” as Reggie calls them, get together to form a doo-wop group, how they all manage to sneak into the rock concert of the year, and how Reggie, Ian and Stan become the first 10-year-olds in 80 years to have roles in the school’s annual Shakespearean play (and Rashmi becomes the first Asian girl in the nearly 200-year history of the school to have a leading role). Don’t miss the next part of the story, get your copy of The Bluebottle Boys (Vol. 1) at Amazon now.

Meanwhile, in a few days I’ll have the first of three previously unposted selections from Walking Backwards for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall. And maybe, after that, a somewhat seasonal sneak preview from The Bluebottle Boys (Volume 2).  So, stay tuned.