The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday January 24 1995
“They ditched us again.” Warren said.
Tristam shrugged, “Their choice.”
The cafeteria was subdued. About a fourth of the student body were absent; some parents didn’t want to bring their children past the gauntlet of reporters camped out near the front gates, others were waiting to see if something else was going to go wrong, some just didn’t want their kids coming back at all. Tristam found it darkly amusing that while he might have only wounded Evan he just may have killed Blessed Heart.
Now that’s what I call revenge. Tristam thought as he picked at the cold chicken strips he’d grabbed out of the refrigerator this morning.
Warren had bought a Hostess fruit pie and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He was eating the fruit pie first, “Now what?”
“That’s what I’ve been thinking as well.” Tristam looked at the other tables, Monique was among the missing students. It was to be expected he supposed. Her father was very protective of her but somehow Tristam had nurtured the secret hope that she just might come back to him in the aftermath, that somehow all her friends going crazy would drive her back into his arms.
No such luck.
“I mean maybe we should go and look for them?” Warren said, “They’re probably in the library.”
“I think we should give them time.” Tristam said, “They’re spooked. Greg’s got them spooked.”
“Well, I suppose what you can do is pretty spooky.”
At the front table, Pam was the center of attention. She was showing off her engagement ring to everyone. Ronnie was beaming like a fisherman that had caught a prize-winning bass.
Bass… ass… what’s the difference? Tristam thought, God! I sound like Phil!
Warren said, “Yeah. Think of it, you took these guys out and they never knew it was you. You can’t get in trouble for anything.”
Fred Trager was back, with a few scars and his arm in a cast, he still looked a little dazed. Yvonne was sitting far away from him. Tristam caught Linda Kaspary taking furtive glances his way.
“Evan knows.” Tristam replied.
“How?” Warren finished the fruit pie and licked the sugar from his fingertips.
“I told him, right before he got shot.” Tristam paused at the memory, relishing it, “I doubt he’ll know what to make of it, and he’s got jail and walking to worry about now.”
Warren smiled, “That’s cold.”
“Besides Greg knows too. And Yusuf. And Rich.”
“And me.” Warren said as he unwrapped his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Tristam let his perceptions change, he peered through flesh and matter into the very workings of Warren’s mind. It was like looking at the inside of an intricate watch that used synapses instead of cogs. He watched his friend bite and chew on the sandwich for a moment more before he reached in.
I do this wrong and he is fucked for life. With frightening ease Tristam made the changes he thought Warren would need. If this works… Today Warren tomorrow the world!
Warren slowed his chewing and looked at his sandwich like there was something wrong with it. After another experimental bite he put the sandwich back in its tinfoil and slipped it back in the bag. “What was I saying?” Warren asked.
“You wanted to know what I am going to do now.”
“Yeah.” Warren said, “I mean screwing with bullies is one thing but with your power you could be knee deep in cash and babes in no time.”
“I’ve got a few things in mind.” Tristam smiled.