THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday November 10, 1994
Carol Bloom got out of work early for a change, so naturally she took advantage of the opening in her schedule to do a little supplemental grocery shopping. Tristam wasn’t too happy about it, all he wanted after today was to get home, get out of his school uniform and maybe watch a little television. But he didn’t voice a single complaint. If his Mom got stressed out, she would smoke and Tristam didn’t want her going for her cigarettes just yet. He figured later tonight he could add some cigarettes from another opened pack to the diminished one she had in her purse now.
Of course ‘Just a few things at the market’ ended up being eight bulging plastic bags all of which Tristam had to carry in while his mother unlocked the door. He jerked his head in the direction of the electric blue Camaro parked in front of the house. “What’s he doing here?”
“You’ll find out when I do.” Carol said as she opened the front door and gave a sudden cry of “Pamela!”
Tristam hurried to the door, Please God let her have caught Pam and her boyfriend smoking dope!
“What on Earth happened to you?” Carol voice was heavy with worry.
“It’s nothing,” his sister sitting on the couch, her ankle wrapped in an ace bandage and propped up on a pillow, “Just a sprain.”
The bird whistled and squawked. Ronnie Miller walked out of the kitchen with an ice bag, “Hello Ms. Bloom. Hey Tristam.”
“Hey Ron.” Tristam tried to close the door but his mother swung it back open again
Carol hefted her car keys, “That could be more than just a sprain. We’re getting you to the emergency room.”
“Mother, that isn’t necessary.”
“I say it is. Help her up Ronnie.”
Ronnie handed the icebag to Pam, “No need Ms. Bloom. On the way here we stopped by my Dad’s practice and he checked her out. It’s just a sprain.”
Tristam shook his head, “But your Dad’s a gynecologist.”
Pam shot him a five-alarm glare, “Shut up Tristam.”
Carol gave him a nudge, “I’ll handle this, you go put the groceries away.”
With a grumble he hefted up the bags and headed into the kitchen. He set them down on the counter and did his best to eavesdrop.
“You’re not lying to me are you Ronnie?”
“No Ms. Bloom, we really did stop at my Dad’s. And it really is just a sprain.”
Pam whined, “Chill out Mom.”
Mom did not like that at all, “Pamela you do not tell me to chill out!”
“Sorry. I just mean that I don’t want you to worry.”
Nice save. Tristam thought as he put the milk and cold cuts into the refrigerator. It always amazed him what a total kiss-ass Ronnie could be. He had said he wanted to get into politics when he was older and he was doing a bang up job already. Class President, Captain of the Football Team, Homecoming King and Prom King- Ronnie Miller just rolled over whatever got in his way- on or off the field.
He’s even decent to me- when there are no witnesses.
So it came as no surprise that Carol Bloom was almost as crazy about him as her daughter was. She even let her daughter have the occasional sleepover at the Miller’s house.
I wonder what Pam’s Dad would have thought at that. Tristam thought.
“Do you have plans for dinner Ronnie?”
“No I don’t Ms. Bloom.”
“Stay then. We have plenty of food.”
“Just so long as it’s no trouble.”
“No trouble at all.”
Jesus, get a room you two. Tristam sneered while he shoved vegetables into the crisper.
“How did this happen Pam?”
“Gym class. Linda Kaspary body checked me.”
“Weren’t you paying attention?”
“Yes. I was paying attention but I happened to notice your son skulking around.”
Tristam stopped dead in tracks, crushing a bag of muffins to his chest. How- But- I wasn’t there- not physically anyway...
Carol’s shout went right up his spine “Tristam get in here!”
Knowing better than to wait for a second shout he made his way into the kitchen. His mother and his sister where glaring hotly at him, Ronnie was staring intently at a spot on the carpet.
“Repeat what you just said to me.” Carol said.
Pam said, “I tripped because I looked up and noticed Tristam spying on me.”
“Cutting class again Tristam?” Carol pulled the ruined muffins from her son’s grip.
God he hated this, he hated the way she talked to him like he was five years old and in front of the captain of the football team no less! “We didn’t have class today there was an assembly.”
Carol scowled, “All right then let’s try it this way. Were you where you were supposed to be?”
“He’s lying.” Pam sneered.
“You’re the liar not me.”
“Up yours you little creep.”
“You know-” Ronnie jingled his car keys, “Maybe I should-”
“No stay.” Carol said, “This will just be a minute. Tristam, you weren’t at that assembly where you?”
“I was.” Tristam said again.
“Look me in the eye and say that.”
Tristam looked her in the eye, “I was at the stupid boring assembly.”
Carol Bloom shook her head, “Then why don’t I believe you?”
“Because you’ll believe any Goddamn thing Pam says!”
The moment the words left his mouth Tristam knew he was done for. Carol Bloom’s voice went from seriously angry to seriously murderous, “Go to your room.”
“Go. To. Your. Room!”