The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Thirty-Six part three
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Wednesday January 25, 1995
Dean Jackson’s office, much like the Dean himself, was a shadow of what it used to be. The psychedelic posters were gone from the walls, his desk was oddly businesslike and free of knick-knacks; the center of Dean Sidney Jackson’s face was all bandages, both his eyes were blackened. Pamela Bloom hated herself for thinking it, but he looked like a raccoon. Both he and the school nurse were staring at her with numbed expressions.
Pam felt uncomfortable and guilty in their presence, which made no sense because she hadn’t done anything to warrant a trip to this office in years and she never went to the nurse’s office – even when she was sick. There was something about the woman that Pam just didn’t like.
“Is there something wrong?” Pam asked. She wondered if they wanted to ask her about why most of her friends and hangers-on had been going crazy lately.
June can’t come fast enough. She thought. Marriage will be a cakewalk compared to this.
“Pamela…” Dean Jackson shifted uneasily in his seat, “…I’m very sorry to have to be the one to tell you this.”
What’s wrong? Pam felt her mind begin to race.
Dean Jackson seemed to have lost the ability to speak, he glanced at the school nurse and the frowning, rail-thin woman took over for him. “Pamela, the police just called. They found your mother, she’s dead. I’m very sorry.”
Pam didn’t know what else to do but laugh. This had to be a joke. “What are you talking about?”
Dean Jackson found his voice again, “And your brother never showed up at school. No one knows where he is. The police are sending someone by to talk to you. He should be here any minute.”
“What… how? No.” Pam shook her head, trying to will this room, this moment away. She didn’t even realize she was crying until the school nurse handed her a tissue. “What happened?”
“We don’t know.” The Dean said, “All we know is that the police need to speak to you.”
The school nurse suggested, “Is there anyone we can call for you? A relative?”
“No. Nobody.” Pam said. Her grandparents on her mother’s side of the family had died years ago and her mother had fallen out with and been ostracized by the Bloom family for marrying Gawain Wight so soon after her first husband’s death. Pam barely knew any of the Blooms’ at all, her mother’s funeral would be the first time she would see any of them in over a decade.
My mother’s funeral. The thought stung her.
The school nurse continued, “There must be someone.”
It was another thing Pam could blame on her brother, if he hadn’t come along she would have had an extended family – big Christmases and Thanksgivings. She had hoped that when her mother had kicked Gawain out of the house things would return to normal but Tristam was like a living memory of the Bloom family’s anger and disapproval. The fact that he had their last name when his father was someone else just made things worse. He was like an anchor around her neck.
The Dean checked the clock, “No one knows where he is.”
“What…” Pam felt her limbs go watery, “What do they think?”
“I- I don’t know.” The Dean stammered.
“If she had died of a heart attack or a car crash I wouldn’t be waiting for a policeman would I?”
“I’m sorry but I really can’t say.”
Pam crushed the tissue in her fist, “I know what you’re not saying. I know what you’re both not saying. My mother was murdered wasn’t she?”
The school nurse said, “You poor dear.”
“My mother was murdered and no one knows where Tristam is.” Pam’s voice shook, she couldn’t believe what she was saying, she couldn’t stand what she knew, “And now the police want you to keep me here until you can figure out if I’m another potential victim or if I was involved. After all who’s to say that the sister isn’t just as fucked up as her brother?”
All the color had drained from the school nurse’s face, the Dean looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. Neither adult said a word.