The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Twenty-five part three
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday December 20, 1994
“You mother tells me you have exams this week Has that been stressful for you?” Dr. Butterfield gazed out from the depths of his chair, notebook and pen on his bony lap.
“In a way… kinda.” Tristam sighed. All he could do now was think about Drew, about the way some of his friends had looked at him. The Cold Inside felt pent up, ready to burst. Tristam was afraid of what might happen if he really let go.
Well we all know what happened the last time don't we?
“Tristam? Tristam? Are you listening to me?”
“Oh. Sorry.” He knew that annoyed tone all to well. Too much of it and Dr. Butterfield might take his mother aside and start whispering suggestions. Suggestions that seemed to be designed to drain all the joy from Tristam's life. “It was just. I was wondering if I could ask you something.”
Dr. Butterfield picked up his pen and looked hopeful, “Well if it sheds any light on what has you so preoccupied please ask away.”
“My old friends turned on me. My new friends don't really trust me. It turns out the girl I had a crush on gave head to half the boys in my damn school. My Mom is a friggin' basket case and don't tell me you can't tell- if you can’t you should turn your damn diploma in. And my Dad? My Dad doesn't listen to me, he just waits for me to finish speaking.”
“Your perceptions are colored by your feelings Tristam. Most adolescents have a pretty bleak outlook, you're not alone.”
“I think we're all alone, but that's not my point, that's not what I'm trying to say. What I'm trying to say is that sometimes I see the world as good guys and bad guys and sometimes I see the world as the weak and the strong. I don't know which view is right anymore and I don't know what I am. Am I weak? Am I bad? And what are you?”
Dr. Butterfield paused to gather his thoughts, it was the most his patient has ever said in a session. He opened his mouth to speak-
-There was a twinge of discomfort as Tristam's spirit swept Dr. Butterfield's consciousness aside and took control. For a moment it was as though he was staring through the eyeholes of a mask but a breath later he felt the warm weight of flesh and blood congeal around him. Tristam stared at his own body slumped in its high-backed leather chair. Looking at yourself from the outside was different than a reflection, mirrors twisted and cheated, feeding the viewers' insecurities and vanities.
Drew was right. I am a handsome devil.
Letting the pen and paper slip from Dr. Butterfield's hands, he stood uncertainly. This body was taller than his own and it took him a moment to find his center of gravity. He paced the room for a few moments; then he riffled through Dr. Butterfield’s desk and papers but found nothing even remotely scandalous or interesting. So much for the old saw of psychiatrists being more screwed up than their patients.
That meant blackmail was out. He'd hoped to find something he could use for leverage, something to force Dr. Butterfield to sign off that his patient was fully sane and no longer a threat to pets and livestock.
“Oh well.” He reached into Dr. Butterfield's back pocket and went through the man's wallet, shaking his head disapprovingly at the photos of his wife and children. “Come on Doc, you can do better than that.”
His inflections sounded odd coming from someone else's voice but somehow that made this all the more fun. It was like listening to your voice after inhaling helium, it was you but it wasn't you.
The thought occurred, If Phil's watching he's going to shit a damn brick.
And of course that was right. Phil didn’t want anything to jeopardize his master plan.
But what about my master plan?
Who am I kidding? I wish I had a master plan.
Shrugging to himself he pulled a pair of hundreds out of the wallet and stuffed them into his sleeping body's breast pocket.
“This is so weird.” He chuckled while he glanced at the clock; the session had less than ten minutes left. It was time to put things back in order. He retrieved the pen and notepad and sat Dr. Butterfeld's body back down in the elaborate chair. Tristam eased his spirit out of the other man's skull and leapt back into his own flesh-
-“Well what I think is…” Dr. Butterfield trailed off, looking confused. He straightened in his chair, “What I think is…”
“Yes?” Tristam asked with feigned interest, “I’m waiting…”