The Bluebottle Boys (Vol. Two) — Chapter 24; Birmingham (UK), 10 April 1962: The King & Queen of Rock’n’roll [Excerpt 3 of 5]

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“Meanwhile, whatever the case may turn out to be with the flat, you are about to embark on quite an affiliation with this venue. As you do, you’ll find that he’s an odd, but rather useful, companion for its duration.”

“Does he have a name?”

“He does, but most humans have a devil of a time trying to pronounce it. I suggest you find another name, some alternative one with which you’re both comfortable. It’s nothing you have to do immediately, take your time – weeks, even months if need be. Name him in haste, repent at leisure – once you’ve given him a name, you’ll both be stuck with it, so think carefully.”

“How is he?” I asked, certain the man knew more than he was saying about what happened at the cemetery.

“How is who?” he replied.

“The angel who posed as a statue, saved our necks and got smashed to bits for his trouble.”

He sighed, shaking his head. It would be one of the few times I’d ever see him look vulnerable. “You were not meant to deduce that,” he said.

He looked up and managed a small smile. “But since you have, he’s resting, recovering nicely, steadily. I’ll tell him you asked after him – not many children do. He’ll be touched. Meantime, you need guidance for your Easter singing, and I’ve just the thing.”

He reached into a cubby-hole at the top of his desk, pulling out a fairly thin, yellowing, dog-eared, musty-smelling, volume, some of its pages starting to come loose, that looked to be about 100 years old. Its title – set forth in Blackletter typeface, no less – was in German, a language with which I’d a nodding acquaintance, but no more.

“Tomorrow, Reggie, when you see Father Fitzgerald, take this with you; he will know what it is and what to do with it.

“While we’re on the subject of books, I want you to take these four with you – no arguments. Start with the one on top.”

They were Victorian children’s picture books – in better shape than the book in German he’d handed me, with quite charming illustrations, actually, but this had to be some kind of joke: The Goldenrod Book of Faeries, The Violet Book of Faeries, The Olive Book of the Faeries and – the one he wanted me to begin with – The Big Book of Tales for the Nursery.

“Sir, meaning no disrespect, but I stopped reading nursery rhymes when I was four, and was past all the rest by the time I turned six.”

He smiled indulgently.

“I don’t expect you to read them again, Reggie, nor even to linger over their pictures, though the practice would do you no harm. I’m giving you the book with the nursery rhymes as a kind of ‘shakedown cruise,’ you might say – get you acclimated before moving on to the others. You might want to wear this shirt with the cufflinks you have on for the first few times – after that, you can simply keep those cufflinks in your trouser pocket.

“Again, Reggie, be patient, and no arguments. You’ll see what they’re for soon enough.”


© 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.

The Bluebottle Boys (Volume One) and Walking Backward for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall are each now available from Amazon Books. The Bluebottle Boys (Volume Two) is expected to be available shortly.  The next novel of the series, By Good Angels Tenanted, will be available later in 2018.