The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Twenty-five part two
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday December 20, 1994
The buses always ran an hour late on exams week and it always drove Adelphos nuts. Why were these two weeks out of the year so damn different? His father had explained it as some kind of contractual problem between the Blessed Heart Academy and the private bus company that ferried the students to and from school. Adelphos didn’t like to wait around until four o' clock for a stupid bus, not when his Dad needed help at the store. So he brought his bike and as soon as his last exam of the day was done he rode off. Thankfully most of the ride was downhill and relatively free of traffic. There was still too much snow and ice for him to risk the sidewalk, so he rode in the street, keeping with the flow of traffic and obeying all the rules of the road.
All he could think about was the crap coming out of Tristam’s mouth. What was his problem with Drew? The girl was in trouble and all that damn pretty boy wanted to do was start rumors.
Drew pullin' a train. Yeah, right. I shoulda knocked his block off. Adelphos slowed his bike to a stop and waited for the traffic light to turn from red to green. He shivered at the cold, wishing he'd brought a heavier coat.
The light changed color, he started pedaling again. I need to have a real long talk with Greg about this little project of his.
His bicycle tires splashed through the mud and slush as turned the corner from one side street to the next. Greg had thought they could welcome Tristam into their little circle and he would somehow be reformed; that he would go from being a dog murdering scumbag to a nice guy.
All these years running D&D and Greg still doesn’t get it. A man can't just up and change his alignment.
All that welcoming Tristam in their ranks had done for them was make more trouble.
Next semester he's gone or I'm gone. I'll eat my lunch in the damn library if I have to.
And if that didn't make Greg come to his senses then he'd just start his own damn D&D game. He could probably run a kickass game if he put his mind to it. He was sure he could get Warren interested and maybe even Rich. Yusuf however was so damn polite that he probably wouldn't know what to do. Adelphos didn't like the idea of putting him on the spot but it was time to take action.
Something wet hit Adelphos on the side of the face. Startled, he braked too fast and nearly lost control of the bike. A blue sports car sped past him, leaving exhaust and jeering laughter in its wake. Adelphos knew that car. It was Fred Trager's; a reward from his super rich Dad for managing to get on the football team.
Adelphos ran his hand along the side of his face and was relived to see it was just water. He started pedaling again but his thoughts had turned violent. If there was one thing he hated in this world it was people who thought they were better just because they were a little stronger or a little richer. These silver spoon scumbags were worse than the thugs he'd crossed paths with in public school. At least those kids had some street cred.
The sound of laughter and insults underscored by a revving engine drew closer again. Adelphos looked behind him to see that the blue sports car had circled the block and was coming back around again. Bobby Hilton was riding shotgun, some other kids were in the back. Kenny Wurman leaned out the driver's side window with a Super Soaker.
Great. Adelphos thought as they drew up on him. Any other time and he would just laugh this off as morons being morons but it was the middle of December and the sun was setting. A wet head and a wind chill factor. Just what I don't need right before my Christmas vacation.
He tried to dodge back onto the sidewalk but the snowpiles where too high and the cars were parked too tightly together. A thick stream of water caught him across his shoulderblades and neck. He cursed and skidded his bike to a halt. They sped off again, he could hear one of them shouting “Now you really are a wetback!”
That does it! Adelphos reached down and grabbed a chunk of broken asphalt; it was jagged and cold to the touch. Now I'm not the kind of guy to go damaging other people's property but if they're stupid enough to come by again…
Bobby's car rounded the block again. Kenny was hanging out the window, he screamed “The retard's just standing there!”
Thanks for not disappointing me boys.
He counted to three then he threw the rock. The pitch was a little wild but it caught the front windshield in the upper right corner. A spiderweb of cracks bled across the glass. The car screeched to a halt.
Adelphos’ foot fumbled for the kickstand Now to drag his stupid ass out of there and give him the beating of his-
The blue sports car lurched forward, Adelphos tried to get out of the way only to get his legs tangled in his bicycle and tip backwards. He fell hard against the icy bumper of a car. For a long strange moment his vision went dark.
When he could see again, there was a ringing inside his head that was maddening and impossible to escape. His mouth tasted like blood. It wasn't until he felt a dull thud of pain in his ribs that he realized they were standing over him, kicking him, stomping on him.
The pain grew. He tried to get to his feet but he was too dizzy. He tried to curse them but a sneaker to the face made his words gibberish.
It had been less than thirty seconds since he'd fallen but it seemed like forever. He felt himself blacking out again and shook his head to clear it. That only made things worse.
…hang on …someone will see… this is a busy street… a neighborhood…
Looking up again, looking for the help he prayed would be close by he saw someone standing over him. It was Bobby and he had the bicycle hoisted up over his head.
Adelphos gritted his teeth and curled into a ball.