THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Wednesday November 9, 1994
The library was quiet but fraught with hidden dangers. Assaults took place behind the stacks, well out of sight of the librarians. Most recently Tristam had suffered a punch to the kidneys from by an eager freshman. Of course Tristam had cried out, and gotten a night’s detention for disturbing the peace.
Peace, hah. Tristam thought as he made his way through the stacks to the books on mythology and the occult, Peace my ass.
Finally he found the volume he was searching for, a slender hardback tome called Mysteries of the Mind. He brought it with him to one of the long tables near the front of the library. A trio of students snickered and whispered as he approached. He sat far from them.
Skimming the table of contents he searched for an appropriate chapter. After a few moments he flipped it open to the section entitled Astral Projection and read; “The astral body is an exact copy of the physical body but it is quite intangible. The astral body may, with the proper training or through near death trauma, become separated from the physical body and travel about. In this 'freed' condition the astral form is incorporeal and invisible, this is because it exists on what is loosely termed the astral plane, which is a separate spirit world that encompasses our world but also extends beyond it.”
That sounded like what he was experiencing. It sounded like it a lot. Except he hadn’t had any training or near death trauma, he just did it in his sleep. Maybe Stackman’s math class bored me so bad that I died but never noticed. Tristam thought, Probably not. I wonder if anything like this happened to Greg when he-
“And they said you were illiterate.”
Tristam looked up to find Rich Head staring down at him, “They say much worse.”
“Pull up a seat,” Tristam set the book aside, “what are you doing here?”
“It’s a free country and my free period. Besides I usually hang out here, polishing off my homework and reading the newspapers.”
“I prefer Study hall.”
“Better for sleeping,” Rich said.
“Remember what happened to you last time you fell asleep in study hall?”
“How could I forget? Your sister did it.”
“Oh. Sorry.” Tristam blushed.
“No biggie. When I become Emperor of the world she will pay.” Rich playfully shook his fist in the air.
“You’ve got my vote.”
“What will your first act as Emperor be?”
“Well, let me see.” Rich scratched the stubble on his chin, “My first act would be to outlaw organized sports and to require all people who ever participated in organized sports to wear pink tu-tus every day for the rest of their lives.”
“Then I would make video games and D&D Olympic events.”
“Then I would get Warren laid.”
Tristam smirked “Sure you can? You’d only be Emperor of the world, not a god.”
“I’m sure some girl would be willing to take it on in the chin... So to speak.”
“I thought he had a girlfriend. You know up in Canada.”
They laughed quietly.
A short man in dark overalls walked over to them, he was carrying a clear plastic trash bag in one hand was emptying the wastebaskets into it, “Good afternoon gentlemen.”
“Uh... hi.” Tristam said.
Rich nodded, “Yeah hi.”
The man kept talking as he worked, “I’m the new janitor here. My name is Jason.”
Tristam shot Rich a curious glance, he had thought it was an unwritten rule that janitors and lunch ladies were not allowed to talk to the students, “That’s great Jason.”
Jason kept talking, he had short close-cropped hair and dark eyes that never seemed to linger in one spot for too long, “I just wanted to let you kids know who I was and that if you ever want to rap about anything I always have time.”
Rich nodded, “You know they have a school councilor for that.”
“Oh I know but sometimes kids don’t want to talk to someone they might think is ‘the Man’. Which I am not... I mean I am ‘a man’ but not ‘the Man’.” He paused thoughtfully, “Maybe I am just one of the guys?”
“I’ll let you boys get back to your free time. Keep it real.”
“Yeah.” Tristam said.
Rich waved, “Nice talking to you.”
Once he was out of earshot Tristam asked, “What the Hell was that about?”
Rich shrugged, “I guess even janitors want to save the world. What were we talking about again?”
“Warren’s fat unfuckable ass?”
Tristam said, “You know he wouldn’t be half bad if he lost a little weight.”
“And those pants he wears, they’re so tight he can hardly keep them buttoned.”
Rich nodded, “Looks like a poorly packed sausage.”
“What gives? He should have tailored stuff. I thought his parents were wealthy.”
“No Tristam, his parents are sickeningly wealthy. They own about every other car wash in the city.”
“They make him wear clothes two sizes too small. The figure if he’s uncomfortable enough he’ll loose weight.”
“That sucks!” Tristam exclaimed. One of the librarians shushed him loudly, he cringed and shrunk down in his seat. “I mean,” he whispered “that sucks.”
“Tell me about it. It’s just as well though, his taste in girls would only get him in trouble.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know that Venezuelan girl?”
“Solana? Are you kidding me? Solana?”
Rich smiled “You do know her.”
“She is only the hottest most untouchable girl in the school.”
“He’d just about do anything for her, even diet.”
“Does she know? Has he said anything?”
“If you were him would you say anything?”
“No. I wouldn’t say anything back when I was a freshman and she would talk to me.” Tristam said wistfully.
“He’s got this five year plan thing.”
“Oh, I have got to hear this.”
“He’s going to hang around. Try to say hi to her in the halls, offer to help her with her homework-”
“She’s on the honor roll!”
“Hey it’s not my plan.” Rich shrugged, “But Warren figures that by senior year he can wheedle his way into being her friend or at least a tolerated acquaintance.”
“It gets better. Then after graduation, he’s going to cash in the bonds his grandfather set aside for college and use the money for a liposuction.”
“Then when he’s slim and trim he’s going to find her and sweep her off her feet.”
Tristam had to laugh, “Poor Warren.”
The bell rung signaling the end of the period, Tristam grabbed his book. “Gotta go.”
“Later,” he headed up to check his book out.
“Stay loose,” Rich got up and headed for the exit.
Tristam laughed again, Solana! God Warren, you poor slob.
The librarian took the book from his hands and scowled. Tristam looked to the door and happened to catch a glimpse of Monique leaving the library.