Non amo te, Dickus Spotticus
Charles T Winkerton inspected the contents of his package glumly. His assignation with a Burly Brute down by the waterfront had left traces, nay, irrefutable evidence, nay, the Mark of the Beast was upon him.
He rebuttoned his placket, and whimpered. His bosom buddy and boon companion would be here at any moment and he was afflicted! Sorely stricken! And there was the small matter of his twice-skipped meeting with his Nemesis Tutor, Dr. Benjamin Rock. His Sensible Cousin, Richard Winkerton, should have arrived last night to rescue him from his Muddle. It wasn’t like Cousin Richard to be late.
“Woe!” wailed Charlie.
There was a tap at the door, and Charlie bit his pouting lips and flung the door open. At least he would look blooming and pink-mouthed for his Best Friend, Owen, and would not be reproached for being Out of Looks.
“Beloved Boy!” he trilled, and then gulped. It was his Formidable Landlady, Katherine de Medusa.
“Hello Kitty,” simpered Charlie, hoping his Charms would be Lucky.
“You’ve been summoned. The Proctor has had enough of your dockside exploits, playing hooky, and all around failure to be a Serious Student.”
“Hooker!” wailed Charlie. “But I’m free!” He frowned. “Wait! How does he know? How do you know?”
“I read his note,” said Katherine, and tossed Charlie a crumpled piece of paper covered in a crabbed black hand. “And the proctor knows all!”
She flounced away passing Owen DeCoverly on the stairs.
“Well,” said Owen. “She’s in a fine taking!”
“Owen!” wept Charlie.
“Heavens,” said Owen. “Are you still declaring, declaiming, denouncing, and…”
“Oh hush up!” snapped Charlie. “I am very into verbal.”
“I think you mean oral,” corrected Owen. “A common conflation of the two words. Damn! Now you’ve got me doing it. I should never listen to you.”
“That,” sniffed Charlie, “is aural. And, I’ll have you know, I never talk dirty!”
Owen walked backwards out the door and re-entered. “Good morning, Charlie! How are you this fine morn? I see the roses are blooming in your cheeks!”
Charlie rechecked his placket. “Owen! I am in a Terrible Situation!”
“Again?” said Owen, resisting his urge to yawn his reply.
“Yes,” said Charlie, so distressed that he forgot to Verb. He flopped into a chair and then sprang up again as the Burly Brute’s Bestowal Bit him in the Butt.
Owen sniggered. “Another Fundamental Problem?”
Charlie checked his placket yet again. “Stop it, Owen!”
“Let me get to the Bottom of the Matter,” giggled Owen taking over the verb duties.
Charlie rolled his eyes and huffed. “Owen! Cousin Richard promised he’d take my Oral Exam for me and he’s not here! ”
Owen’s chortles crescendoed and cascaded and Charlie Tossed the Dictionary out of the window.
“Plain speaking,” he exhorted, and glared at the final Said Synonym as it Sailed towards Defenestration.
Owen nodded, and took a deep breath. “Carry on,” he said.
Charlie and Owen paused to check for Verbs, and then they continued.
“And now I’ve been summoned to the Ologist’s Office!”
“I don’t think you should call him that,” said Owen. “A Slip of the Tongue could be your Doom.”
“Very well, The Proctor wants to see me. I think my Tutor has sent me to have all my crimes dealt with in One Fell Swoop.”
“Oh dear,” said Owen. “He’s going to switch you?”
“No, pay attention! I was going to switch with Richard!”
Owen put his head in his hands. Conversing with Charlie made his brain hurt.
“You’ll have to face him. Tell him the truth about whatever he asks. You know what he’s like about Fallacious Boys.”
“Owen! I never – “
“That’s not what Dr. Benjamin Rock’s valet says.”
Charlie blushed. Was his prowess Common Knowledge?
Owen patted his arm. “Charlie, no one thinks you passed your first year exams any other way.”
“Oh! Oh! So not fair! I did pass them! I’m a pineapple of perspiration and knowledge.”
“I think I need a verb back,” hooted Owen. “Charlie, go to his study and see what he wants. Remember: a switch in time saves nine!”
“Oh, hush up,” whimpered Charlie succumbing to a verb. “If only Richard were here. He knows how to Handle a Pickle.”
Owen hooked his arm in Charlie’s and walked him across the quad.
“I’m going to my execution! I’m going to be beheaded!”
“Doing it a Little Too Brown,” said Owen as they paused while a man flashed by in pursuit of a Tom cat.
“I’m like Lady Jane Grey!” wailed Charlie.
“You’re nothing like her!” said Owen. “She was only a queen for nine days.”
They paused at the Door of Despair. Charlie quavered and quivered. He raised his hand to knock. “I do not like thee, Dr. Fell,” he whispered. “The reason why I cannot tell… wait yes, I can! It’s because you are Mean and have a Switch.”
Owen grabbed his wrist. “Wait! Charlie! I think I’ve Spotted your Dick!”
Charlie checked his placket and sighed in relief. He was still buttoned and, oh!, his Sensible Cousin Richard was crossing the quad.
He would not have to face the Proctor without his Stalwart Supporter after all.