When asking around regarding fraternities, one specific frat's name kept popping up, usually accompanied by either a sneer or furtive glance over the shoulder. Gamma Tau Pi. I would learn later the more correct (and telling) pronunciation of the Greek was "Gamma Twat Pi". It became obvious that while various fraternities had certain connotations (Phi Mu Alpha was for the band nerds, Alpha Sigma Pi was for football players, Sigma was for the black guys and Delta Zeta was for the rest of the athletes) Gamma Tau Pi was known for one thing and one thing only: almost being shut down every year by the president of the college and being mentioned a truly alarming amount of times in the local media in regards to property damage, underage alcohol poisoning, and actually one murder. They threw parties every night, played no sports, barely went to class, and in general had a completely atrocious reputation. I myself was a small-town yokel who barely knew how to speak, worried constantly about my grades, and voluntarily took 8am classes just so I wouldn't have to deal with many people. Having seen "Animal House" years back, the concept of something so foul as the Gamma frat made me think only one thing:
I'd found what could possibly be HOME!
I'd grown up in the country, true, but my group of childhood friends and I had established firm reputations for ourselves back home as hell-raising, hard-drinking vandals, sex criminals, pigfuckers (a story for another time perhaps), church-pissers, thieves, self-mutilators, abusers, potheads, idolaters and whatever ELSE in hell you can get called in a small town. Suffice it to say if it was there to be misbehaved around, we did it.
When I knocked on the door of the house, a clearly middle-aged man with no pants on and grey-stained tighty whities stumbled to the door and asked to see my pamphlets.
"Pamphlets?" I asked, wondering if I was already missing some unknown boat, or worse yet, had the entirely wrong house number written down.
"Yeah, the Watchtower. I like reading that shit when I get high." the man exclaimed, wobbling in front of me and reeking of some of the skunkiest weed I'd ever smelled.
"I'm not a Jehovah's Witness. I want to join!" I chirped, hoping my enthusiasm would carry me through this moment I was becoming more and more uncomfortable in.
"Darren! There's some faggot who says he's not a Jehovah's Witness at the door, says he wants to join your club!"
I made the connection quickly. This was someone's Dad. Holy shit! I overlooked the insult, hoping for...who in hell knows at this point.
A guy about my age stumbled up behind the older dude; it was tough to figure out whether he was sizing me up or just attempting to actually focus his eyes for a second.
"Hey!" he shouted, elbowing his father out of the way and holding out a hand I initially thought I was supposed to shake "You give me a Watchtower. Now!" What the fuck was it with these guys and that magazine?
"I'm not a Jehovah's Witness! I want to see about joining the frat!" I protested.
"Oh. You a fag? Shit. Not supposed to ask that. Fuck. We're having our party tonight at 8. Be here then, bring some shit." With that, he closed the door.
Luckily, I knew he meant that tonight would be the night that prospective members met current members at what was politely termed a "mixer".
I had no idea what "some shit" would entail. Maybe he wanted me to go get the latest editions of Watchtower.
That night, I showed up dressed as "collegiate" as I could muster (sweatshirt, baseball cap, slightly baggy jeans, chuck tailors) with a 6-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon. There were cars everywhere; parked in the street, alleys, the neighbor's yards, the house's front lawn, etc. Lights were streaming from every window, and LOUD music was pouring out of every open crevice of the dilapidated structure (having been built in 1943, the house was clearly in its waning years; there were obvious holes in every wall and everything creaked constantly. I would later find out the place also leaked like a fucking sieve).
I knocked once, twice. Nothing. Suddenly, a voice emanating from near my feet made me jump sideways.
"Just go in. We don't care" said someone I couldn't see who was obviously lying on the porch, in a darkened corner mostly obscured by an overgrown shrub.
As I opened the door and stepped inside, the voice called out once more, and then was silent.
"Hey. Hey. Bring me a beer."
Entering the house, every sense I had was immediately assailed and subsequently overwhelmed. What wasn't obscured by clouds of smoke was nothing but flashing lights, moving bodies and iridescent patches on the floor. A hand reached out and instantly snatched the six pack out of my hand. Another hand grabbed my arm and pulled me forward.
"Registration to join is over there" was accompanied by a noncommittal wave at a couch, upon which it looked like four people were fucking. It was dark, but someone had set up four or five HUGE strobe lights in varying corners of the house. The smoke was wafting up from downstairs, a potent combination of what smelled like tires and garbage mixed with barbecue, pot, and cigarettes. Against my better judgment, I began to salivate slightly. The music, so loud my teeth felt like they were liquefying in my head, was courtesy of a guy with a guitar and a mic and a drummer ensconced in another corner.
Making my way over to the couch, I saw I was right. There were people fucking on it, and there was a clipboard with a couple names on it. I picked it up, fished a pen out of my pocket and added myself.
"What do I do now?" I asked the first guy to walk by wearing a Gamma sweatshirt.
"Just fucking roll, man...get fucked up, get in a bloody fight, get some pussy, get high, fuck; whatever!" With that, my impromptu "guide" left me to my own devices.
I spent the evening drinking a lot, wandering around the place, checking out the layout. It seemed the bottom floor was nothing but hippies. Six bedrooms and a bathroom, the centerpiece was a pool table. There was Grateful Dead on the stereo, every type of bong and pipe imaginable, and chicks with dreadlocks. Upstairs, there were athletic looking guys who dressed sorta preppy and seemed to be mainly concerned with drinking and hooking up.
I ended up playing cards with a group of people, totally naked, in a THIRD floor I hadn't even known existed until I got lost and found myself wandering up a staircase. It seemed to be nothing more than a huge room occupied by a few desks and beds.
I lost every hand I played, got so drunk I ended up sleeping under the pool table in Hippie-land and woke up late for class with only my pants on. I hadn't even hooked up; I just ended up drunk as fuck, wandering around half dressed at some point. The memories were very, very vague. That meant at some point I had switched over to whiskey. After blearily putting on a shirt that (I later found out) wasn't mine, I went to class.
When I got to my room that afternoon, there was a message for me. Another party at Gamma. Come.
After a quick dinner and shower, I was once again letting myself into Gamma House at 8pm. This time, the house was completely quiet. And dark. WAY dark. It seemed like even the appliances had been unplugged; there were no LED's to help me find my way to what I figured must be my goal: down the hall, I could see muted light illuminating a doorway to one of the bedrooms.
"What's your name?" a guy asked. He was standing beside a lamp with a t-shirt thrown over it, in front of about 8 other guys who were in the same predicament as me (i.e. they looked like they had no fucking idea what was going on), and a couple more frat members. After telling him, he looked at a piece of paper in his hand, nodded, and said that one more guy was supposed to show before the "Program" started.
I got excited. I just KNEW I was in! This was it! Was it to be a solemn oath? A somber recounting of the organization's history?
The other guy showed up, a bigger guy; might have been a football player, but had obviously been winded by the effort it took to walk down the hall.
"Ok, guys. Here's the deal. Hazing is illegal, and we could all get expelled for doing it to you guys. So here's the deal. You're all in (at this, there were smiles and high fives). Now it's time to get REALLY fucked up."
For an hour, that's what we did. Hurried introductions interspersed with keg stands, shots, beer bongs, marijuana shotguns, and chugged beers at a truly frenzied pace. One guy threw up at the half hour mark.
By time we were told to take a break, I figured I had consumed about 18 beers, four shots, and at least a joint's worth of pot. I was FUCKED up. The room was spinning.
Dan (the de facto "president" of this little get-together) suddenly yelled "OK! Now we're going on a trip. Take off your clothes. All of you."
Panic streaked across my fogged brain, lighting up my awareness for a second. What the HELL?
"Get your fucking clothes OFF! I'm not fucking kidding! We're doing this NOW! If you don't get naked get the fuck outta here, and leave us whatever money you have to cover what you just drank and smoked. Fucking NOW!!"
"You...you said you weren't gonna haze us" one guy weakly ventured.
"No...I said it was illegal. Didn't say we weren't gonna fucking DO it. STRIP!!!"
I, for my part, had already been naked there, and escaped unharmed. I wanted in. I didn't care. And I was really, really drunk. I started peeling off my clothes, piling them beside me in anticipation of putting them back on after whatever humiliation we were going to be subjected to was over. Once we were all naked (I only learned later one guy left at this point), we were told to put only our shoes back on, and then to go to the living room.
Standing there, in the dark of the living room, I almost farted when the front door slammed open and a guy stumbled in, screaming "READY!!"
We were ushered outside, and into an old conversion van that didn't have an interior light. I tripped over something on my way to sit on the bench lining the back. By this point, I was near passing out, and didn't particularly CARE what was happening. I was IN, and that's what mattered.
The van started moving, and after about 20 minutes, stopped. No one had said a word during the trip. Three flashlights glared on at once, illuminating 7 clearly intoxicated and nude men, two men fully dressed and holding flashlights, and what I had tripped over.
Lying on the floor of the van were axes. Three foot handles, shiny and new. Never used. Axes.
"Here's what's up" Dan intoned, clearly enjoying the bewilderment. "Everyone pick an axe. Each one is marked, so we'll know if you switch out or anything. Here's the thing. We're dropping you off out here, and your task, for the rest of the night, is to make it back to the house before 7am, with your axe. Anyone who can't do this can come back with us, but you are not fucking getting in. If you make it back after 7, you better either have a great fucking excuse and proof, or you're not getting fucking in. If you get arrested, it's your fucking ass. We will deny everything and we won't have anything to do with you. Good luck; it's not even that cold."
It was late September, around 10pm, I was unbelievably drunk, and I was being dropped off on the outskirts of a fairly large city, naked, and with a fucking AXE. I couldn't think of a quicker way to get arrested than running down a public street naked, with a rather large axe in my hands. Not a small worry was trying not to chop my cock off while running with the damned thing. Why was I already strategizing? Shouldn't I be protesting, absolutely REFUSING to do this?
"If you follow, more or less, highway 94 back the way we came, you will get home. Use whatever you need to, but you can't wear clothes. We'll fucking know if you do. Do whatever you have to do; we don't care. We only want you to make it back.
"So we can fuck you in the ass" muttered one of the members, to Dan's amusement.
"It's about 10 miles. You can do it. We're gonna call off names, you get out, we drive down a little bit, call off another name, that kinda shit. Anyone out?"
Two hands shot into the air.
I sat there, numbly, holding "my" axe when suddenly my name was called.
"Clark. Out. See ya."
With that, I hopped out into the chill night air. The van's door slammed, and it took off again.
I looked around immediately. I was on a residential road, but not a densely populated one. People had BIG yards here. Up ahead, in the direction I was to go, I could see two other guys, naked as I was, holding axes. It was a scene from a nightmare I hadn't even had yet.
Headlights flared ahead, and I saw both guys dive into the ditch beside the road.
Unsure of that to do, I jumped as well.
Three cars crept by, slowly. I lay flat against my stomach, the axe beside me. After what felt like half an hour, I slowly stood up.
None of the other guys was in sight.
I was already covered in dirt and grass.
Figuring that walking in the road would be a sure ticket to jail, I looked at the houses on either side of the street. Most had their lights off. Hardly anyone had fences.
I was going to walk through back yards.
Going slow, keeping as near to the houses as I could (and thus the shadows) I made what was probably a cautious half mile before I heard it.
A high, tortured screaming about a quarter mile ahead. It cut through the night like a throbbing dick through peanut butter and coincided perfectly with my hitting a yard with a motion-sensor floodlight.
Whether it was being so drunk, finding myself suddenly completely illuminated in a stranger's backyard, beside a fucking SWINGSET AND SLIDE, naked and dirty, brandishing an axe, or just being flat-out country stupid I set off in a sprint toward the screaming.
The minute I hit dark again, I sank my leg into a pothole, nearly snapping my right ankle while cutting myself on the left. Somehow I managed to avoid both. Rolling back to an upright position, the screaming stopped.
Twenty minutes later, as I made it to where I thought I had heard the poor bastard, and imagining every evil befalling him, I had surprised myself with my OWN screaming as a huge dog ran to the absolute length of its chain to bite me, grazing me with its teeth on the thigh as I ran by.
Lights shot on again, and a man came out screaming at me to stop. I was clearly not the first through these particular parts, and as I ran I concluded that the guy in front of me hadn't just been grazed but had probably sustained a full bite.
I made it another half mile before I finally ran out of breath and collapsed in a quiet, dark yard.
I settled in, for the next couple of hours, to a half-trotting jog that covered distance while allowing me to try to clear my mind enough to think my way out of this situation. I had a vague idea of where I was, but was still none too sure. I had no idea what time it was, but my fears were telling me it was 5am (it was more likely around 2 or 3 at this point).
I was walking across a rather expansive yard when the unmistakable sound of someone running, fast, came to me. I could hear the leaves crunching as the gap closed between my pursuer and I with every second.
I immediately broke into a full sprint, not even looking back. The pounding steps came closer and closer, and I hunched over, expecting the bite of a taser at any moment followed by a command to put my hands where they could be seen.
The steps overtook me, and I looked up to see a naked man, without an axe, suddenly running in front of me, eyes trained on the ground in front of him.
"FUCK!" he screamed, finally looking back at me as we both continued to run. He stopped and made a wild grab for MY axe.
I was holding fucking AXE. All I had to do was raise it in a vaguely threatening gesture as he backed off.
"Maaaaaan...I lost mine. I LOST it!!" He whined, in a completely overloud voice. He grabbed for it again, and I made as if to swing it. He backed off, but continued staring at me in a wild and slightly threatening manner. He was fucked. He knew it.
"Fuck you" was all I could think of in reply as I shot across him and toward the front of the house. I was going to have to cross the street to get away from this bastard. At least that was the best idea I could think of at the moment.
Nearing the house, I saw curtains rapidly close as I ran by. Yeah. Try getting the police to listen to your report of what's going on in your backyard. As I ran across the street, a realization hit me like a ton of bricks, almost making me fall. When I got to the relative safety of the back yard of the house there and was able to catch my breath for a second, it became clear.
I had seen lights.
A lot of them.
Ahead of me was Missouri Interstate 70, and if I wanted to get to the frat house, I would have to cross it. All eight lanes of it.
Coming as I was more or less down a service road of highway 94, I would have to traverse the interstate to make it back. That involved either jumping onto highway 94 itself and taking the bridge over 70, thus dealing with the traffic up there, or actually running across a major interstate. Naked. With an Axe.
At least the crazy fucker from across the street hadn't followed me.
Making my way down, it became clear that not only was there a lot of traffic on 94 (it was Friday, after all), I could actually stay in shadows all the way to the edge of highway 70. Taking the bridge over would expose me to a LOT of traffic, and put me in a position of having neither hiding place nor escape route for a good quarter mile. Even better, I could see another little path leading into the wooded area on the other side of 70.
I crouched at the side of the pavement, waiting for traffic to let up a little. I picked my moment.
I hit highway 70 from the northern side at a full sprint, pumping my arms like an Olympic runner, my movements only somewhat impeded by the axe in my hand. Completely illumined by the streetlight above. One lane, two, three, no cars. Time slowed down, and I heard the theme song to Chariots of Fire in my head. By the fourth lane, I had to slow down for a second to figure out how to get over the abutment that divided the eastbound from the westbound lanes. It was about waist high.
I hit it like a pommel horse, vaulting over it just in time to see an 18-wheeler nearly veer off the road at the sight of me. I scraped something on my crotch as I made it over, but I had no time to look. Searing pain lit up my cock as I hit the ground at full speed, my chest on fire from the exertion and my head spinning. I stumbled on a rock, looking up to see a family in car whizzing by, their mouths a perfect chorus of shocked "O"s.
Four more lanes, and I was safely in the bushes on the other side of the highway. I immediately fell to my knees and vomited heartily.
I had scraped a good portion of skin off the side of my cock on the abutment. I was covered in a myriad of scratches and bruises.
I still had about 5 miles to go. The sky was lightening noticeably. Time was running short. I had long ago sobered up, and my head was killing me. I wanted to lie down and die right there.
Somehow, I stood up again, and started jogging through the woods. Only as I hit the first yard did I realize that I had crossed on the WRONG FUCKING SIDE, and would have to cross highway 94 before I made it. In what was nearly the center of town.
Hitching a ride was not an option, for obvious reasons.
At this, I fell into a pile of leaves, completely lost in my despair.
And proceeded to go to sleep.
I woke up, thankfully, about 5 minutes later. It was nearly dawn.
What I didn't know, though, was that what had woken me up was a dog being let outside to take a piss. By a girl who looked to be about 6 years old, who was STILL OUT THERE, WATCHING THE DOG.
Lying there as still as possible, not having been spotted yet, the dog ambled around the yard for a while, until finally it saw me. Letting out a yip, it ran straight for me as I exploded out of the leaves, axe in hand. The dog promptly bowled over backward in its attempt to get the hell away from me.
The little girl started screaming so loud she became almost instantly hoarse.
I fell over their chain-link fence as she continued to scream, making it another five back yards before I even slowed down, adrenaline forcing me past my normal limits.
At this point, desperately, I ran across highway 94, surging out as if shot from a cannon across someone's front yard, across all four lanes and into another yard without even looking up. I only heard tires screeching once. I was beyond caring, about to collapse.
I ran, and continued to run, for another five minutes, neither looking up nor caring who saw me. I only stopped when I noticed that a cop car was up ahead, slow-creeping down the street.
At that point, I realized that I was standing about 300 feet from the house.
I dropped flat, just as the spotlight broke over where I had been standing. I could only imagine the local police had been LIT UP with calls about naked men with axes all night.
Once all was clear, I jumped up, ran the last half-block to the house and stumbled in the door.
"CLARK!" someone boomed as I dropped to the floor.
Dan walked up, chuckled, and said merely "Good. Shower, put your clothes on, pick a room, go to class. Move all your shit over by 7 tonight. There's a big party at 8. You ever feel a porn star's tits?"