The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Thursday December 15, 1994
“OK where the heck is she? This is getting weird.” It was halfway through lunch period and Greg wasn't the only one worrying.
The Magnificent Seven had been one member short for almost a week, Drew had even missed Saturday’s game. Drew never missed Saturday’s game.
Rich wondered aloud, “Maybe she's sick? Mumps or the flu or something?”
“That's possible I suppose.”
“No.” Tristam said, “There's something wrong here, something weird. Can’t you feel it?” He gestured around the cafeteria. The kids sitting at the popular table were tense and subdued, that odd unease was filtering down through the bordering tables. Why were Monique and Solana sitting almost two tables away from everyone else? Why did his sister and her boyfriend look so pissed? And since when was Fred Trager one of the Pretty Boys? Fancy sports car or not he'd never been allowed to sit so close to the movers and shakers before.
Adelphos cocked his head, “No.”
Warren laughed, “Maybe you're just sensing Alderan being destroyed.”
Tristam shot him a glare, “By what? Your ass?”
“Good one!” Yusuf clapped, “His ass is not a moon it is a battlestation!”
Greg frowned, “That wasn't very nice.”
“Perhaps I have been watching too much Mystery Science Theater.”
Rich disagreed, “You can never have too much Mystery Science Theater.”
Greg rapped his knuckles on the table “Getting back to the subject at hand what are we going to do about Drew?”
They looked at each other helplessly. Yusuf asked, “What can we do? Either she isn’t home or her parents are screening her calls. When I called on Tuesday her father sounded most hostile.”
Rich took a swig from his thermos, a paperback copy of the Corum Chronicles sat unread beside it. “You mean you got a voice? When I called yesterday all I got was an answering machine.”
“They didn’t even set the personal message they had that automated Cylon-styled voice answering. You know the one that comes out of the box.”
Tristam half listened to the conversation, he was watching the popular table in every dimension he could, “Has anyone else noticed how they keep talking among themselves and then looking at us?”
“Be still my heart.” Warren said, “Maybe at long last they have come to respect our unbridled manliness.”
“Wow.” Rich was taken back, “You get bitchy when your parents give you plain yogurt for lunch.”
“Covet not my pastrami!”
Greg shrugged, “Maybe we should send her a letter.”
Adelphos agreed, “Or maybe some flowers.”
Rich shook his head, “Scratch that. Her cats eat any plants brought into the house and then get sick for days.”
“A fruit basket then?” Adelphos suggested.
Yusuf said, “You don’t suppose it’s something we did?”
“What did we do?”
“Did we forget her birthday or something?”
Warren pushed his yogurt away with a look of disgust, “Nah, her birthday is in the spring.”
A chorus of raucous laughter erupted from the Pretty Boys. Tristam could tell they were talking about sex, Bobby always got that flush, faraway look in his eyes when the subject came up. Tristam tried to hear what they were saying but the background noise was too loud.