THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Friday November 4, 1994
The Kaspary family didn’t have a back yard they had an estate. That, coupled with the fact her parents never seemed to be home, was why Linda always threw the best parties. In the wooded area behind the disused stables with bonfires blazing and beer kegs on tap, she would gather the most popular and beloved students of Blessed Heart. To be invited to one of her parties was to be assured a place among the student elite, to not be invited was a sign that your popularity was in free-fall. Pamela Bloom had been a staple at these parties since her Freshman year. She sat on a lawn chair nursing a beer and watching the underclassmen frolic around her. Nirvana was blaring from a nearby boom box- people where playing Kurt Cobain’s music obsessively now that he was dead. She wondered to herself if they even remembered that it was her brother that introduced them to the band’s music.
Probably not. she realized. They probably weren’t even giving him a second thought. All they knew about her brother now was what they had seen on the TV and the wild rumors that followed.
There was just a hint of frost in the air, the long Indian Summer was drawing to a close. Plastic cups littered the ground. The fire blazed and crackled. The underclassmen cheerleaders where fawning over the Senior boys, most of the underclassman boys where too drunk to even move. It was only a matter of time now before somebody threw up.
Linda’s dog Scooter was sniffing around and wagging his tail but she had no time for him, she was off in the corner with a trio of other girls. Pam watched them, huddling conspiratorially their smiles cruel, their eyes like razors. Pam knew that look. It would only be a matter of time before someone was singled out to be the subject of some catty remarks. By the end of the night their target would be reduced to a social ruin. Another tradition, the ritual sacrifice. They’d tried to come for Pam once but she’d met them blow for blow, slur for slur. It had been like something out of that movie her Mom had liked so much, Dangerous Liaisons.
Of course it was her stupid brother that had put her in the danger of being ridiculed in the first place. The only way that she had been able to save herself had been to join in on the abuse. She remembered that first day of classes, the way he’d looked so pale and terrified. He’d approached her when she at her new locker, fumbling with the combination. Pam knew that everyone was watching. When Tristam tried to speak she’d rounded on him screaming –”Get away from me you fuckin’ freak!”
A pair of chilly hands wrapped around her shoulders, “Hey babe. Everything all right?”
She almost smiled up at her boyfriend, “Just thinkin’.”
“About what?” Ronnie’s breath was warm and tinged with the scent of beer.
There was a whoop as Bobby Hilton and Kenny Wurman began chasing Scooter around the campfire.
Pam said, “That this is probably the last outdoor party until the spring.”
“Yeah so?” Ronnie smiled.
“So? Think about it, after this its Thanksgiving break, then its midterms then the semester break, then it’s back to school. We’ll have a few more parties, then it’s time to start thinking about the senior prom and graduation…” She shook her head, “Then it’s over.”
“No.” Ronnie circled around to the front of the chair, “That’s when it really starts- college, work, real life. It’ll be cool.”
Ronnie pulled her out of the chair and took her in his arms. He kissed her just the way she liked. Why couldn’t we have just one more year? She thought as she held her him tight. In her heart of hearts she knew that the end was approaching fast. He was going to college in the southwest and she was staying here. They didn’t stand a chance- ten years from now they might pass in the street and not even recognize each other.
Kenny Wurman caught Scooter and held the dog by its collar. “Whoo!” he screamed as he humped the air behind it, “Look at me! I’m Pam’s brother! Look at me!”
Then again… Pam thought, …there are some people I can’t wait to never see again.