Bethany made no trip to the side of the road, during the drive home.
Like the restaurant lunch Dad treated everyone to before we left, the return trip was uneventful. I was left to my own thoughts, wondering what could’ve happened to the imp.
Just then, I heard a quiet giggle, and found the little blighter hanging onto the inside of my lapel. He stayed there until we arrived home and I’d run upstairs to my bedroom; then he jumped into the same drawer where I’d stashed the handkerchief and its contents, content, apparently, to stay there for the time being.
I put the glue by my models, hoping to explain it later to Dad, and let him explain it to Mum.
The key I stashed, until I could find some better place, in a paperback edition Dad had just bought me of Midsummer Night’s Dream to tide me over until I received a copy of the script from school.
I then took the book to the lounge, hiding the key and note inside some of my music during my piano practice. I’d intended to retrieve it again in the morning, stashing it in the inner pocket of another jacket whilst Mum warmed up the car to take us to school.
But, these plans hit a snag after I’d finished piano practice and headed next door. Stan was there with Ian, now both playing with the castle. But both had been at Ian’s earlier that afternoon, with Mrs. Tippins, who apparently knew the rudiments of playing piano, trying to pound out the notes for the pair of them with regard to both the Easter concert and to the doo-wop material of The Heaven Seven. They looked uneasy.
“Reggie mate,” Stan began, “we know y’doin’ the best y’can. We can’t do it alone, and Ian’s mum means well, but she’s not much of a help. But y’gettin’ in over y’head – especially with the Easter stuff, but with the doo-wop stuff, too. Y’hafta concentrate on singing, let someone else play the keys. Y’not up t’doin’ both at the same time.”
“Have anyone in particular in mind?” I asked, more relieved and curious than insulted.
“Erm – yeh,” Ian said, “Stan and I’ve given it a good hard think, and there is someone.”
“Yeh,” Stan cut in, “someone you’d never suspect would be up for it, because this person doesn’t take any music classes. But Ian knew.”
“Only because the person told me,” Ian said – apparently as some kind of disclaimer.
“Anyway,” Stan said, butting in again, “this person had years of lessons when they were younger and –”
“‘They’ isn’t even proper grammar when speaking of one person,” I said, rolling my eyes. “It’s evasive: ‘this person,’ ‘the person’ – like you’re afraid to even bring up gender. Wot the bloody –”
I stopped, took a breath,
“ – wot is so top secret about ‘this person?’”
“Nothing!” Stan insisted, much too slowly and loudly for the circumstances, ending the word with an inordinately hard “g.: “Nothing at all.”
“It’s just that – the only thing is, Reggie – when you find out who it is…” Ian paused and swallowed hard before continuing, “…we don’t think you’re gonna like it.”
© 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