THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Wednesday November 9, 1994
Mysteries of the Mind forgotten Tristam ran down the crowded first floor hallway of Blessed Heart’s main building, elbowing his way through the uniformed throng he called out, “Monique! Monique wait!”
She was at her locker, exchanging one set of books for another. When he called her name again she glanced his way, there was a flicker of something in her eyes- joy, surprise, something- but it was quickly replaced by dull horror. She looked like she was getting ready to make a break for the stairwell when he caught up with her.
“I need to talk to you.”
She slammed her locker door closed, “Too bad.”
“No. Just hear me, you never let me explain. You just went along with everybody else.”
“I know what you did. Everybody knows what you did.”
“Monique you were my girlfriend.”
“Oh God.” She tried to go but he grabbed her by the arm.
“But you were,” They were drawing a crowd, the mass of students was slowing to gape and snicker.
“Maybe I was your girlfriend but that was before…”
“You don’t understand what really happened.”
She turned back to face him, “Do you really think I could ever be seen with you again? What would my parents say? What would my friends say?”
“Are you... Are you going out with Bobby Hilton?”
“Is that what this is about? I don’t belong to you.”
“Who gave you that hickey?”
She recoiled from him, her hands drifting up to the collar of her turtle-neck sweater, “This is the last thing I will ever say to you- I am not going out with Bobby Hilton.”
Tristam shuddered with relief. It proved that everyone else was wrong and he was right, it proved that there was still a chance.
“She’s going out with me Dog-Boy,” Evan grabbed him by the back of the neck and shoved Tristam face first into a locker. Sparks danced before his vision, he tasted blood. Evan spun him around and glared at him, “And you stay away from her freak. Do you hear me?”
Tristam looked back to Monique but she wouldn’t make eye contact.
“I said, do you hear me?” Evan’s grip tightened menacingly.
“Yes what?” he grinned a little.
“Yes I will stay away from Monique.”
“No. Say ‘Yes I will stay away from Monique... sir.’” Evan played to the crowd of onlookers, “Do it or I will beat you like you beat that fuckin’ dog.”
His cheeks burning with humiliation Tristam said, “Yes I will stay away from Monique sir.”
“Damn right you will,” Evan punched Tristam in the side of the face. His vision became a flicker of blackness. He felt his knees buckling but caught himself before he fell.
Tristam watched Evan and Monique walk away. The warning bell rung. Laughter filled his ears, he heard someone chuckling, “What a fuckin’ wimp.” and for a moment he envied the infamous Jeff Hayes all the more.
How far did they push him? He wondered How far did they push him before he had enough?