The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Friday December 16, 1994
Around eleven-o clock in the morning it began to rain, clouds and gloom conspired to make the cafeteria cold and dull. The six boys sat at their usual place and stared sullenly at the pile of fruit sitting in the middle of the table.
“Where did the bananas come from?” Rich glanced over his shoulder at the other students, knowing they were being watched.
Yusuf shrugged between sips from his thermos “They were here when I got here, waiting for us. Should we eat them?”
“If I wanted to eat fruit I'd stick to my diet.” Warren flinched at a particularly loud eruption of laughter from the front tables. “Is it me or is everything getting a little too Lord of the Flies around here?”
Tristam laughed, “Man I should have read that book.”
“I am getting tired of this shit. Real tired.” Adelphos glared at a few choice students.
Greg frowned, “And what's up with the whole slurping thing? I've been getting that all day.”
“You too?” Tristam asked.
“I think maybe it means that they think we suck.” Yusuf said.
Rich shook his head, “That's too clever.”
“Even though I know what the answer is going to be…” Tristam said, “…has anyone heard anything from Drew?”
Greg frowned, “Still MIA.”
“Midterms are coming up, is she going to miss midterms?
Warren said, “I tried to call but it looks like they changed their number.”
“Changed their number?” Tristam shook his head, this week was just getting weirder and weirder.
“It says the number is no longer in service.”
Yusuf asked, “Doesn't that just mean that they have caller ID and call blocking?”
“Is there a difference?” Adelphos asked.
Rich shrugged, “Well if her family’s changed the number I think that's a little worse than blocking calls.”
“I don't think so, I think the other way is worse.” Yusuf said.
“Yeah but you liked Highlander 2, that makes every decision you've ever made suspect.”
Evan, Bobby and a few other of the popular kids began catcalling in their direction. From where he sat Tristam could see his sister watching it all and looking pissed off. It almost looked like the popular kids were splitting up into warring camps.
That doesn't usually happen until the spring. Tristam thought.
Dave wondered aloud, “She must have the mumps or chicken pox or something like that.”
Warren frowned, “So speaks Mr. Positivity. Is the game on hold for now?”
“No way.” Rich said, “We have enough people for a small raid into goblin territory.”
“I'm up for it.” Greg said, “What does everyone else think?”
“Well,” Warren said, “I'd really miss the game but it sure wouldn't be the same without her.”
“Besides, she's the only one of us that comes up with plans that work.” Tristam laughed.
“Maybe we could play Talisman until she comes back?” Yusuf suggested, “I can't imagine the game without her- she's our fifth Beetle.”
Adelphos looked up in confusion, “Didn't they fire the fifth Beetle?”
“No Talisman. No board games. I hate them.” Warren said.
“How can you hate board games? Were you beaten with a Parcheesi set when you were a boy?”
Greg said, “That would scar the heck outta me.”
“A Monopoly set would be worse, all those sharp edges and metal pieces.” Rich said.
Adelphos shook his head; “I could take a Monopoly set but imagine if someone beat your ass with a copy of Candyland. I don't care how secure you are in your masculinity you could never go to the police and tell them you got clobbered with a copy of Candyland.”
Tristam scratched his head, “How exactly did the conversation get here?”