The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Thirty-One part one
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Friday January 13, 1995
Dean Sidney Jackson was an old hippie, he'd been to some of the more famous protests and concerts of the sixties and seventies and he always was willing to give the student a benefit of the doubt. It wasn't the first time Bobby Hilton had found himself in the Dean's office, in fact it had gotten to the point that he and the Dean faced these near monthly encounters with a kind of bemused resignation. Usually he was there for picking on the nerds, but once he had been there for tussling with Kenny, but that had been a debate over rock bands that had spiraled out of control.
“Here we are again Mr. Hilton,” the Dean said, “I had hoped we could get through the month without some kind of an incident.”
“Uh, yeah.” Bobby said. That was another thing, he always knew where the point of no return was in regards to his fighting. He knew how to keep his nose clean and for how long. Bobby knew that after the snowball fight he had to keep his hands to himself at least until March.
Dean Jackson looked up from a thick manila folder, “Is there some reason for this acting out? I know you and your friends have been getting into an awful lot of trouble all of a sudden.”
“I-” He stammered, “I don’t know.”
Somehow Bobby Hilton had no idea why he was in the Dean’s office, it was all he could do to keep the panic from his voice. It was like he nodded off in the middle of math class and then suddenly he found himself here, about to get his ass handed to him. He'd heard of walking in your sleep, but fighting in your sleep? Who had he hit? And why?
“Did you think what you were doing was funny? Do you think it made you cool?”
“I don't know....” Bobby fidgeted in his seat, “I don’t know what I was thinking?”
The Dean leaned back in his chair, his expression grave, “Well, I hope it was worth it because you may be looking at considerably more than a suspension here.”
“Really?” The ire in the man's expression made Bobby unable to keep eye contact. He glanced first to the ceramic candy dish on his desk, with its uneven curves and wobbly letters proclaiming Dean Jackson as the 'WORLD'S BEST DAD', then he looked to the framed prints on the walls of psychedelic album covers and mountain landscapes.
“Do you think Mr. Erdoes is going to want you in his class after your shenanigans today?” Dean Jackson waved the folder at him for emphasis; a stray referral slip lolled out and fell to the desk. “You're looking at starting all over again in a new class with a new teacher, that is assuming you don't get expelled outright for this.”
Bobby felt himself beginning to sweat, “I'm sorry?”
The Dean laughed, “You pantsed your teacher in front of the entire class. An apology isn't going to cut it.”
“I what?” Bobby almost sobbed, “No. No! I didn't... Did I?”
Dean Jackson's face became cool with concern, “Is there something wrong Bobby?”
More than wrong. This was crazy. Bobby would never pants a teacher, that was suicide! Plus it was kinda gay. He didn't understand why he couldn't remember anything. What was-
-“You little creep!” The Dean's voice was shrill with anger and panic. Bobby Hilton scanned the room; they'd changed, they were both standing. Dean Jackson was right in his face, his cheeks were blood red, he was spitting and spluttering. The ceramic candy dish was shattered by the far wall; shards of glass from the framed poster of Jimi Hendrix jumbled around it. “My son made that for me with his own hands!”
Did I just do that? Bobby tried to think through the daze. Why would I do that?
“Sir… there is something wrong-” Bobby tried to speak but the Dean was too busy shouting to listen. Bobby knew his father wasn't going to like this, his father would-
-Bobby was standing in another part of the Dean's office, he had moved again without realizing it. Glass and ceramics crunched under his feet as he caught himself on the desk. He didn't understand any of this. Had he really pantsed a teacher? Why couldn't he remember? Why was his right hand hurting?
And where was Dean Jackson?
On the other side of the desk he heard something shift and then a groan.
Oh God. Bobby looked at his aching hand, Oh God!
He crossed behind the desk to find the Dean sprawled on his back, his nose was flattened and his face was a confusion of blood and tears.
“Sir?” Bobby whispered, “Sir? Are you alright sir?”
The Dean flinched away trying to cover his face.
“Wait.” Bobby leaned closer, “This is so crazy. I can't explain it. Did I hurt you?”
Dean Jackson's only reply was to kick Bobby Hilton in the crotch.