THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday November 8, 1994
From the moment his mother saw the huge black bruise on the side of Tristam’s face she began pestering him. “Who did it?” “How did it happen?” And of course- “We have to go to the Dean.”
He managed to keep her from calling the school by explaining the whole incident as a misunderstanding, a misunderstanding that he felt he needed to clear up on his own. Unbelievably, she bought it. She was even pleased, she saw it as a step forward in his anger management and as a reward she bought him a soda to drink as he did his homework in her office.
The soda was nice but Tristam saved it for later. If there was one thing he didn’t need right now it was caffeine. He closed the door to her office and arranged his books and papers to make it look like he’d been working. Then he laid his head down on his mother’s desk and tried to sleep.
After a day like today a trip to the Booby Hatch is definitely in order. He thought and then another thought occurred to him, In my spirit form I can go anywhere, see anything- all it is for me now is a matter of timing.
His arousal stirred at the very thought. He remembered the way Monique had flinched at the realization he knew about the hickey. They wanted to shut him out did they? He understood now that there was no way they could shut him out. He was untouchable.
But he was too wired to sleep. He just laid there with his head on his hands staring at the scribbled notes on his mother’s desk calendar. He wished he had some sleeping pills, or some Nyquil. Was it really necessary for him, to be asleep?
What had the book said?
“...The astral body may, with the proper training or through near death trauma, become separated from the physical body and travel about...”
Training. There was the problem, where was he going to get training to leave his body? Maybe there was a do-it-yourself guide out there and maybe there was a Cliff’s Notes version of that guide.
Tristam sat up and looked at the clock, watching the second hand swirl around and around. More time wasted woolgathering when he could have been watching Ariel. He slouched and crossed his arms over his chest thinking Maybe one of Dr. Butterfield’s relaxation techniques would help.
He breathed deeply, trying to relax every muscle, starting from his toes and working his way up. But it wouldn’t work, every time he started to relax he found himself remembering this afternoon, remembering Evan giving him a good hard wallop.
And I just stood there and did nothing.
That part stung the worst of all but what choice did he have? He’d been on both sides of the game, he knew how it worked. If the kid you were picking on somehow managed to fight you off, you jumped him later on with two or three of your friends in tow. One way or another the outcasts stayed in their place.
All in all he was not looking forward to the next three years. He wondered if he should just drop out and take his chances with a G.E.D..
And suffer through another one of Dad’s lectures? He bristled at the very idea, I’d rather get beaten up twice a day.