THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday November 8, 1994
No Elvis on the drive home, no music at all. Tristam knew what that meant- a Serious Talk was looming on the horizon. Great. He thought. Please let her not have called the Headmaster. That’s all I need. Of course it could be that she wanted to find out how his session had gone, she always seemed a little insecure after his weekly visits to Dr. Butterfield. Maybe she was afraid he was going to blame all his problems on her.
But isn’t that what parents are for?
His mother began, “Your father called me at work this afternoon.”
Tristam’s heart sank, “He’s not coming is he?”
“He’s stuck at work, he can’t get away.” The car paused at the intersection, up ahead there was roadwork throwing everything into a snarl, “I’m sorry. I know you’ve been wanting to see him.”
Tristam slunk down in his seat, his knees resting against the dashboard. How much more crap could happen to him in one day? With my luck the ground is just going to cave in around us, swallow me, Mom and the car up just like that. He toyed with the mental image. At least with death there would be some consistency. “I guess he’s writing me off too.”
“Don’t talk that way.” Carol said. At the first opportunity she peeled off down a side street, “He’s always been this way about his work. It’s one of the reasons why we didn’t stay together. It isn’t that he doesn’t care-”
“It’s just that he cares about his damn job more.”
“Language. I’m your mother not one of your buddies.”
“Sorry. But this stinks.”
“That’s a fact of life when you work in law enforcement, your job comes first. You should be mature enough understand that by now.”
“The world would be so much better without me.” Tristam scowled, “That’s what I understand, I’m as big a mistake as your marriage to my Dad.”
“Oh can it. You screwed up and now you’re paying for it, no one’s out to get you, the world doesn’t hate you. And you were meant to be here.”
“OK Mom I was just kinda spouting...”
“I know you. I knew who you were before you were even born, before I even knew your father’s name. You are my dream of a son and I know you’re better than this. When they took you out of me and said you weren’t breathing I prayed to God, Yahweh, Buddha, any god that might be listening to save you.”
“Hey Mom! Hey Mom!” Tristam raised his hands in mock surrender. “Woah! We are taking this from Hallmark to creepy in record time here.”
“And he’s going to call you later so you can talk all this over with him.”
“Yeah, right.” Tristam pressed his face against the window, feeling the cool spread across his flattened cheek and forehead. “He won’t call and then a few weeks from now he’ll show up with a gift and an apology. You think I don’t know by now?”
“I made him promise, he gave me his word.” Carol frowned. Her series of twists and turns had led them straight into another traffic jam. This time the problem was a double-parked delivery truck blocking the lane ahead. “I’m sure if there was a way he could clear out his schedule for you he would.”
“Whatever.” He said with a wave of his hand.