THE COLD INSIDE
by AL BRUNO III
Friday December 2, 1994
They were on their way out to the buses when they were attacked.
Yusuf and Rich were still arguing Doctor Who, Tristam and Drew followed, taking turns rolling their eyes at each other. They were laughing and eager to be home; they blundered right into the crossfire.
One of the snowballs caught Yusuf right in the face. He yelped and staggered back, one of his flailing arms knocking Rich to the sidewalk. Tristam turned to see Evan, Kenny and some second string cheerleader named Yvonne, pelting them with hastily made snowballs. On the other side of them Bobby and a pair of beefy freshmen were throwing snowballs of their own.
Tristam and Drew took cover behind a nearby tree. Yusuf staggered, unsure of where to run. Other kids were scrambling for shelter. Rich had landed on his backpack at just the right angle for his textbooks to hit his kidneys and wasn't able to do much more but lie still and groan.
“To quote Warren,” Drew said, “I can’t believe my parents are paying for this.” She was practically sitting in Tristam's lap. Her smile was inches from his face, her eyes glinted.
“Yeah.” Tristam agreed.
A fresh hail of snowballs flew through the air. Rich and Yusuf were shouting but Tristam barely noticed. All he was aware of was how cute Drew really was. He'd never seen it at first, like most kids all he'd seen in the beginning was that birthmark of hers but over the last three months it had faded from his perception revealing the face beneath.
She could have been a cheerleader if not for-
For God's sake what are you waiting for?
A flush of heat licked its way up Tristam's face. He wanted to kiss her but the old prejudices made him hesitate, made him look away., “I… I think…”
The taunts and laughter turned bloodthirsty.
“No!” Yusuf screamed, “Not there! Not there!”
The two freshmen had Yusuf and Rich in headlocks and Kenny and Bobby were trying to stuff snowballs down the front of their slacks. Evan and Yvonne watched from the sidelines and jeered. Tristam couldn't help but notice that Evan was standing awfully close to the red-haired girl.
Yusuf squirmed and kicked “No! These are my good pants! No!”
Rich just stood there, waiting for the inevitable.
Drew leaned closer to peer around the tree. Her cheek brushed by Tristam's nose. “What do you want to do?” she whispered.
“A rescue.” Tristam said. He made a snowball and rolled out from behind the tree. The pitch was wild but it caught Yvonne in the ear. Horrified she retreated back to the school.
Taking Tristam's lead Drew threw a snowball of her own and a spluttering freshman released Yusuf. She quickly got busy making another. Yusuf ran for safety. Cursing, Kenny ran after him.
Evan started walking towards Tristam, “You are dead meat!”
Still on his knees Tristam fashioned a second snowball. He slipped a rock inside.
Another snowball hit the other freshman but he kept hold of Rich. Bobby was gleefully stuffing snow into Rich's pants, unaware of anything else.
Tristam let Evan get halfway to him before he threw. It was a perfect pitch, catching Evan on the forehead. Snow exploded into his eyes and mouth, the stone clattered to the sidewalk. Evan dropped like he had been shot.
“What is going on here?”
Everyone froze in place at the Dean's booming voice. Bobby pulled his hand from the front of Rich's slacks and stammered, “It's-it's not what you think.”