THE COLD INSIDE
by AL BRUNO III
Wednesday November 30, 1994
Ivory painted walls and iron gray doors combined with poor lighting to give the locker room a dungeon-like quality. The air was thick with the smell of stale sweat and mildew.
“Look the fuckin' fact is if you can't play sports you're not a real person.” Bobby Hilton spoke loudly as he changed from his gym clothes, “I mean what's the point of being a guy if you can't do guy stuff? May as well put on a fuckin' dress.”
Kenny laughed, “Yeah a dress! A frilly one!”
Tristam and Greg were on the other side of the row of lockers. “I still can't get over that crit you rolled,” Greg pulled off his sneakers and tossed them into his locker.
“Beginners luck,” Tristam stuffed his gym shorts into a plastic grocery bag and then put that bag into his knapsack. If he didn't get his shorts washed soon they were going to walk home on their own.
“I dunno, maybe you should go to Vegas. I bet you could make a fortune at the craps tables.”
“I don't think they use twenty-sided dice in craps.”
From he other side of the lockers Kenny Wurman giggled, “Yeah, yeah!”
Bobby slammed his locker door hard enough to shake the entire row, “Half the problem with this school is we let in all these freaks... Dog killers, Holy-rollers and fat slobs.”
Kenny slammed his locker too, “Yeah losers.”
No matter how neatly Tristam tried to fold his slacks they always ended up looking like they'd spent three weeks at the bottom of a garbage can. He pulled them on and zipped up, “The natives are restless.”
Greg laughed as he tied his shoes “Field hockey gets them overstimulated.”
Tristam tried not to stare as Greg pulled off his ‘Babylon 5’ T-shirt. The scars that marked Greg’s abdomen were ugly and discolored. Greg said, “We should all get together this weekend and rent movies.”
Tristam grinned, “Still don't know what to do now that the dragon is dead huh?”
“Are you kidding? I haven't even started on you guys yet. Think about it... You guys are in a cave with all this treasure... How are you gonna get it out? Heck half the beasties in there are going to try and get to the dragon hoard now. You guys are worse off than before.”
“You are a sick and twisted man. I can't believe someone that cruel would cry at Forrest Gump.”
“See that's what I get for sharing,” Greg groaned “Hey, have you seen it yet?”
Tristam shook his head as he buttoned up his shirt and pulled on his navy blue sweater “Not yet.”
“The story is great and the effects are something else, you think Tom Hanks is really there with the Presidents and John Lennon and stuff.”
Bobby's shouts filled the locker room “Hey faggots! You two aren't trading underpants over there are you?”
Trading underpants? Tristam found it hard to believe he'd once found insults like that hilarious.
“Come on,” Greg said, “let's get out of here, class starts soon.”
Notebooks and textbooks in hand they headed out the locker room door, Bobby and Kenny shouting insults at their backs. The halls were relatively quiet, the few students around were content to ignore them. The janitor approached as they made their way to the stairwell, “Hello gentlemen.”
“Jason...” Greg glanced at Tristam.
Tristam said, “How goes the mopping?”
“Could be better.” Jason said, “Have either of you boys seen young Warren? We were having this conversation about the Tarot I’m most anxious to finish.”
Better you than me Warren. Tristam thought.
Greg shrugged, “I haven’t seen him yet. We usually catch him at lunch.”
“Ah.” Jason smiled but his dark eyes seemed distracted, “Such good friends. I envy you kids, I really do. High school is such an important and formative time. I wish I remembered more of my teenage years. It’s all a bit of a blur really.”
“That’s what happens when you go to high school in the Seventies,” Tristam joked.
“Actually, I’m much younger than I look but I have an old soul.”
The period bell rang, students began to file out of their classrooms, a sea of uniforms and young faces. “We gotta go,” Greg said.
“Oh of course.” The janitor waved and turned his attention back to his work.
As they walked up the stairway Tristam said, “Hey can I ask you a religious question?”
“Sure.” Greg said.
“Do you believe that a soul can die?”
“Do you believe that a soul can die?”
Adelphos walked past them, waved and headed down the stairs to the art department. Greg gave Tristam a funny look, “What's all this about souls? You been reading Rich's Elric books?”
“Maybe.” Tristam suddenly wanted to end this conversation now, he was afraid he might say too much.
“Why are you asking?” Greg said, “I thought you were an atheist.”
“Let's just say I'm in the midst of a spiritual crisis.”