THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Friday November 11, 1994
The teachers at Blessed Heart tended to really pile on the homework for the weekends. Tristam had always assumed that it was part of their ‘If We Can’t Have Social Lives Why Should The Students?’ policy.
Thankfully he was getting a good chunk of it done now. Tristam sat in his mother’s office with nothing but the buzz of the intercom and the murmurings of the staff and patients to distract him. His Algebra was already done and he was making surprisingly good progress on his history text, hopefully they would be past the Renaissance soon. This chapter was killing him. At least his history teacher Mr. Hughes spiced things up in his lectures by telling them naughty anecdotes about the Borgia Popes.
His Mom had given him change for the soda machine and there was a can of Pepsi sitting in the corner of the desk. He wanted a dose of that caffeine goodness now but he was keeping it as a reward. All he had to do was get through this chapter of his history textbook and he could drink it.
It might be warm by the time I’m finished with this crud. What I wouldn’t give for a radio right now.
His mother had kept a radio for a time, but after the first one and its replacement were stolen out of her locked office she decided against a radio number three. He wished she had gotten something, even an el cheapo model, that way there would be some kind of music to keep him company. Music might distract him from the weird prickly sensation at the back of his neck. It was that feeling he got whenever someone was standing right behind him.
Since his back was to the wall there was no way anyone could be there, so he knew he was just being paranoid. And it’s no wonder considering what I have to go through every day at school.
“I hear you killed a dog.”
Tristam gasped audibly and looked to the doorway. He had visions of reporters or worse but it was only Phil. “My Mom is out of cigarettes.”
“I’m not asking for smokes,” he stepped into the room, pulled up a chair and sat down in front of the desk, “I was asking you a question.”
“I’m trying to study,” Tristam turned his attention back to his homework.
The old man reached out and snapped the history textbook closed, “Study later.”
The sound echoed through the office. Tristam wanted to run, there was something in Phil’s eyes, something he’d never noticed before- a cruel gleam. He saw that gleam a lot in the eyes of Kenny Wurman and Bobby Hilton.
Tristam glared, “I don’t need this crap.”
“What happened? Did it hump your leg too hard?”
“That wasn’t funny the first time I heard it.”
“So did you do it? Did you really do it?”
“What do you think?”
Phil leaned back in the chair, “I don’t know, you don’t look like a psycho. I’ve known some really psychos in my time.”
“I heard you did worse. I heard you went to town.”
“Fuck off.” Tristam tried to sound menacing.
“Ohhhhhhh! Tough guy huh? How about I fuck off to your Mom and tell her about your smoking habit?”
What the Hell is this? I thought old people were afraid of teenagers!
Phil’s expression became more brutal “Tell me how you killed the dog and I’ll shut up and leave you alone.”
“OK.” He started to stand, “Then I’m gonna go and have a little heart-to-heart with your Mom. I like talking to your Mom, she’s got a nice ass on her. She’s a little too wimpy for my tastes but a nice ass is a nice ass.”
“Fine. Good.” Tristam sat back down, “It might be a fun conversation. Maybe my Mom will get so pissed at you that she’ll arrange for your wife to get sent someplace else... Someplace with a staff that even gives less of a shit then the one here.”
They glared at each other for a moment then the old man started laughing. “Not bad. You’re learning.”
“Now don’t ruin it by apologizing.” Phil, got up and started to leave, pausing in the doorway to ask “Say you don’t have any weird allergies to metals or certain plants do you?”
“Just checking. See you around kid.”
Tristam turned his attention back to his history text. When he finished the chapter fifteen minutes later he realized that the old man had swiped his Pepsi.