The Bluebottle Boys (Volume 2) — Chapter 24, Birmingham (UK), 10 April 1962: The King & Queen of Rock’n’Roll [excerpt 1 of 5]

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[Sorry, you’ll still have to get both volumes of The Bluebottle Boys to get the complete story of how The Bluebottle Boys and their new friends from Ladywood slip into the rock concert of the year, with American rockers Desmond Shaddowe and Linda Faye billing themselves as The King and Queen of Rock’n’roll (at least in Elvis’ absence). But I am posting five excerpts dealing with Reggie meeting up during the concert with the mentor and protector you met in the Sneak Preview. Here, as Reggie tries to escape from security guards, he finds himself in a strange room that may — or may not — be part of the theatre. The featured picture is part of what Reggie sees as he climbs away from the stage]

Perhaps we were all standing in the wrong place, or perhaps one of the strobe lights went wacky – whatever the reason, one of the lights reached into the darkness and illuminated us.

Suddenly, we heard a shout, “There they are – th’oones who let th’girls in!” A matter of seconds later, as Gogo Galore was finishing their last song, five burly, beefy security guards were running in our direction.

There was no time to think, or for contingency plans – there was but sheer naked communal panic amongst the seven of us, coupled with the realization that we had to take off immediately in as many different directions as possible. Stan and I bolted out of the auditorium and up the corridor, through the double doors that Stan had kept from locking us out with his chewing gum.

The loading dock was on the other side, but that was the exit of last resort – if it were down to a choice between missing the remainder of the concert and being arrested again. This wasn’t an option, yet – not until security contacted the real police.

 

Instead, we bolted through the other double doors – the ones leading to the stage and the dressing rooms. The stairs were 20 meters in front of us: one leading downstairs to the dressing rooms, ultimately to the stone stairs and to the passageway through which we’d found the backstage area to begin with, the other leading up, to the stage itself. Stan rushed down the former; I shot up the latter.

I hit the stage just as the members of Gogo Galore were coming off. I knew that one of the security guards had followed me up the stairs, but, in the semi-darkness, he’d have a time picking me out from the equally flamboyantly attired band members. But in seconds, the band would be offstage, headed for the dressing area. I shot up the nearest ladder like a mountain goat, hoping I could lose myself in some of the walks about the stage or, if need be, hide in the top of the iron curtain (still standing after all these years).

 

I was ten meters over the stage before the cover of darkness lifted sufficiently for security to even know I’d bolted, much less where. I kept climbing, more slowly, more quietly, past the various walks used by the stagehands and lighting techs, past strange devices whose function and purpose were beyond me, even past where the faux pillars ended.

At this point, there was little chance of their seeing me from the stage below, but I kept climbing anyway. At last, I hit the ceiling, my head nearly 20 meters above the stage floor. Except that, it wasn’t a ceiling, but something else, possibly a trap door. I pushed against it.

At first, it didn’t budge, as if it were locked. Pain shot up my game shoulder from the effort. In any other circumstance, I’d have turned away and looked elsewhere – but there was nowhere else to go, and it was a long way down.

I pushed again with my good shoulder – and again – and again. Suddenly, against anything one would expect in light of experience and common sense, the door shifted. I pushed again – hard. It moved, then it stuck, about three-eighths of the way open. I pushed once more; it resisted for a moment, then  all the way – dim light glowing in the opening. I scampered up the rest of the ladder and lowered the trap.

“Welcome, Master Reggie – it’s good to see you again.”

 

© 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.